Remand hearings for demo detainees

November 2, 1998

The Bar Council calls for all remand hearings of the detainees detained in connection with the recent demonstrations to be held at the regular court houses and not at the police remand centres as lawyers are having difficulty in gaining access to the remand centres to represent the detainees.

The Bar Council has received numerous complaints from its legal aid volunteer lawyers seeking to represent and render legal aid to the detainees of being kept waiting outside remand centres for long periods and generally having difficulty in gaining information and access to the centres.

The Bar Council states that if the remand centres are to be treated as a court for purposes of remand hearings then full and easy access must be given to lawyers to represent the detainees. For example, at the Pusat Latihan Polis (PULAPOL) Centre at Jalan Gurney used for the remand hearings last Friday 30 October 1998, the lawyers representing the detainees, as officers of the Court, should not have been made to wait for 2 hours under the hot sun outside the locked gates of PULAPOL, and to surrender their identity cards before gaining entry into the hall. As an open Court, the lawyers , family members of the detainees and the public should have been given free and easy access.

The Bar Council also wishes to state that the Police and Court officials in attendance should cooperate with the lawyers to ensure the legal rights of the detainees are safeguarded.

In this regard, the Bar Council reiterates that the following legal rights are guaranteed and enure for the protection of the detainee:

1. that Article 5 of the Federal Constitution guarantees every person who is arrested of the right to consult a legal practitioner: See Article 5 (3)

2. that a detainee has the right to be legally represented at his/her remand hearing : see Saul Hamid v. Public Prosecutor [1987] 2 MLJ 736

3. that the Police as the detaining authority has to comply with legal formalities before a valid remand order can be made and the detainees through his counsel has a right of challenge : see Re: Sivarasa [1996] 3 MLJ 611.

The Bar Council wishes to emphasise the importance of these established principles and calls on the Police and all persons concerned with the remand hearings to cooperate with legal aid lawyers to ensure the detainees obtain the benefit of their rights.

Dated : 2 November 1998

Dato' Dr. Cyrus Das, President, Malaysian Bar

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