Detention Under ISA


September 25, 1998

The Bar Council views with grave concern the recent developments that has engulfed the country. The Bar Council, in discharging its duty to uphold matters of public interest affecting citizenís rights without fear or favour, reiterates that at the present time it is more imperative than ever that the rule of law and the right to fair trial and justice should prevail. In the light of accusations against several persons including the former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against alleged criminal offences, the rule of law calls for these persons to be formally charged in court where they will have an opportunity of defending themselves rather than being detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The Bar Council calls for these persons detained under the ISA to be formally charged in court under the relevant applicable statutes. The Bar Council has always maintained that the ISA is a draconian piece of legislation that ought to be repealed.

The Bar Council views with concern that the condemnation of any detainee through the media by the disclosure of alleged incriminating evidence would amount to a trial by the media and impede the conduct of a fair hearing in a court of law. The Bar Council would therefore urge the authorities to let the due process of the law take its course so that justice is not only done but also be seen to be done.

The Bar Council notes that the Attorney General has very properly acknowledged the letter from the solicitors for the former Deputy Prime Minister conveying that he would voluntarily surrender himself to the police if the police intimate their intention to arrest him. However the Bar Council is deeply disturbed by the manner in which the police had taken him in their custody.

Dated: 25th September 1998.

R.R. CHELVARAJAH, VICE-PRESIDENT, MALAYSIAN BAR

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