KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 ― The Home Ministry is imposing “unconstitutional” restrictions on the jailed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim including limiting him to meeting lawyers no more than an hour each week, his family and legal representatives claimed today.
One of Anwar’s lawyers, Latheefa Koya, said the restricted access to legal counsel also comes during a time when the former federal opposition leader is involved in 16 different cases in the civil and shariah courts.
“This is really a gross violation of Anwar’s rights to his access to his lawyers,” she said today at PKR headquarters.
“We can see that this is not out of trying to follow prison regulations anymore.”
Also present were lawyers Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and N. Surendran who are part of Anwar’s legal team.
Surendran added that the restrictions were illegal and unconstitutional as prisoners especially require access to their lawyers.
“A person, especially a person who is in prison is entitled to free and proper legal advice from his lawyers. That means you cannot place unnecessary, unreasonable restrictions.
Particularly when they are in prison. That’s when they need legal advice,” he said.
Surendran said the latest instance of such restrictions occurred today when prison authorities declined his and Ambiga’s request to meet with Anwar this evening to take instruction his pending challenge of his conviction by the Federal Court.
“[Our request] was refused by the prison authorities. To make things worse, the prison authorities are now deciding who can go in, saying that Datuk Ambiga, who is part of the team dealing with the review, and myself cannot visit, then naming the lawyer whom they say they want to meet,” he said.
“This is a completely unacceptable situation.”
According to the legal team, the restrictions started from August 19 when lawyer Shahid Ali and an accompanying commissioner of oaths were made to leave the prison without meeting their client, after a two-hour wait.
A similar incident occurred on August 27 when the Prisons director refused to allow an affidavit to be signed by Anwar for an urgent court matter the following week.
Anwar’s lawyers added that the one-hour a week restriction began on August 28, imposed by Prisons Director Datuk Narender Singh.
However, Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar said she does not blame the prison officials for imposing restrictions, but their superiors in Cabinet.
“The prisons director and the rest are only the operatives who are executing an order. And I fully hold the prime minister and deputy prime minister responsible for such shenanigans and denial of rights,” she said.
“How much more do we have to face? You have taken away the political rights of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. He poses no direct political challenge to the powers that be. At the least, I think this madness has to end,” the Lembah Pantai MP said.
She added, “It is not just about Anwar Ibrahim per se. If you can do this to someone as well known as he is, how about the rest of the prisoners in Malaysia? Not to mention, the state of our institutions today?”
By Aizyl Azlee, The Malaymail Online