KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) called today for a charge against lawyer Siti Kasim to be dropped.
The commission said the state must ensure that lawyers are able to perform their duties without harassment, intimidation, hindrance or improper interference.
“Suhakam cautions that where lawyers are unable to defend their clients for fear of arrest, criminal charges or intimidation, they cannot properly defend people facing violations of their human rights,” Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement.
The Malaysian Bar also criticised Thursday Siti’s prosecution, saying that she had made it clear during the April 2016 event that she was a lawyer and had enquired about the basis for the raid.
Siti was charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code on June 22 with obstructing an officer from the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) during a raid at a dinner function at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur in April 2016. The raid happened during a purported beauty pageant for transwomen.
Siti has since taken steps to file a civil suit for wrongful detention against the police officers and Jawi officers who had arrested her that night.
Two weeks ago, the court granted her application to have Jawi and the police disclose the names of the officers involved in the raid, which would enable her civil suit.