LFL Press Statement
N.Surendran’s Sedition Charges Jeopardises Anwar’s Final Appeal
12 September 2014
LFL views with serious concern the two sedition charges against N. Surendran for statements made in his capacity as Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyer. The first charge against Surendran was for mere criticism of the Court of Appeal’s judgment convicting Anwar; whereas the second charge was for comments relating to the case made after attending a case management hearing on behalf of Anwar at the Federal Court.
The alleged seditious statements made were in fact the crux of Anwar Ibrahim’s legal defence at the Federal Court appeal. It is shocking and unacceptable for a lawyer to be charged for statements made in relation to his client’s case, and even more so for statements which also form the basis of the client’s legal defence.
Needless to say, these charges have enormous ramifications on the independence of the Bar and the right of lawyers to defend their clients and to act without fear or favour. The public will be adversely affected if lawyers begin to fear criminal charges for speaking out on behalf of their clients.
The right to a fair trial crucially includes allowing lawyers to carry out their duties without threat or intimidation from the authorities. In this case, Anwar Ibrahim’s right to a fair hearing in the impending Federal Court appeal on 28 and 29 October 2014 has been seriously jeopardised by the sedition charges which has had a serious impact upon Anwar’s entire legal team.
It is unacceptable for the Federal Court to proceed with Anwar’s appeal with these sedition charges hanging over the head of one of his key lawyers for the appeal.
LFL urges the Attorney-General to urgently review and drop the charges against Surendran. In addition, the AG should also similarly review and drop all charges against all other persons charged under the Sedition Act and work towards the eventual repeal of this draconian law as promised repeatedly by the Prime Minister.
Lawyers for Liberty
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