KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — Several civil liberties lawyers today criticised the police’s conduct during a late-night raid yesterday that culminated in the arrest of activist and lawyer Siti Kasim, and also her client.
Siti, who was arrested for obstructing a public servant from carrying out his duties late last night, did not commit a crime despite the allegations of kidnapping made by her 24-year-old client’s mother, and should be released immediately, the lawyers said.
Lawyer Latheefa Koya said that Siti Kasim’s arrest was one of the “worst cases” of abuse of power by the police.
“The home minister must step in immediately and undo this,” she wrote in her Twitter account.
She also said that it was embarrassing that the police found it necessary to conduct a late-night raid at Siti’s house, where her client Anis Nur Izzaty Ruslan has been staying, while fugitive Umno leader Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos remains at large.
“Are they such big criminals until a late-night raid is needed?” she asked.
Her colleague in Lawyers for Liberty, Eric Paulsen, urged the police not to be arrogant and for them to release Siti immediately.
“The police have caused the fiasco in the first place and now dare to claim she has obstructed the police?” he wrote in his Twitter account.
He also said that Anis was an adult and can be heard insisting that she was not kidnapped.
“Why so adamant on this matter?” he questioned, referring to the police.
N. Surendran, meanwhile, said that the arrest was “unacceptable” and that it was a “BN-style” abuse of power.
“[Tan Sri] Muhyiddin Yassin must get his act together,” he said, referring to the home minister.
Another civil liberties lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, said that there was no reason for Siti’s arrest and that the police could have asked Siti and her client to come to the police station to provide a statement instead.
“They should not come to Siti’s house and make an arrest,” said Syahredzan, who is also political secretary to DAP leader Lim Kit Siang.
Shariah lawyer Nizam Bashir stressed that upsetting or disagreeing with a police officer is “not a crime”.
“Pointing out flaws in police action is not an appropriate basis to arrest anyone for alleged obstruction of public servant in discharge of public functions,” he said.
In a statement, DAP’s Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng, who is also a lawyer, joined the calls for Siti’s release.
“Siti Kasim was discharging her professional duties as a lawyer at the time that the alleged offence was said to have been committed. When lawyers are unable to defend their clients for fear of arrest, criminal charges or intimidation, they can no longer properly defend people facing violations of their human rights,” he said.
“A lawyer must at all times be allowed to advance a client’s rights without obstruction or impediment, or fear of prosecution for carrying out his or her duties as an officer of the court,” he added.