30 November 2015
Americk must be allowed to perform his function as a lawyer
Lawyers for Liberty views with serious concerns the police’s plan to question lawyer Americk Sidhu over his client Charles Suresh Morais’ statutory declaration claim that his Deputy Public Prosecutor brother Kevin’s murder was linked with his anti-corruption work.
Recalling lawyer Matthias Chang’s recent arrest and charge, this latest development in investigating lawyers representing clients is a most serious assault on the independence of the Bar and the fundamental principle of lawyer-client privilege by which all lawyers are bound.
It is basic that all communications and consultations between lawyers and their clients within their professional relationship are confidential and privileged. Further, lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their client’s causes as a result of discharging their functions.
The government has a duty to ensure that international standards such as the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990) are complied with, in particular:
- Article 16: Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognised professional duties, standards and ethics.
- Article 18: Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their client’s causes as a result of discharging their functions.
- Article 22: Governments shall recognise and respect that all communications and consultations between lawyers and their clients within their professional relationship are confidential.
We call upon the police to cease questioning Americk as such an act amounts to harassment of a lawyer who was merely performing his duties to act for his client. Needless to say, Americk like any other lawyer must be allowed to carry out his work freely and without improper interference.
We further call upon the police to recognise and respect the vital function played by lawyers in upholding the rule of law and constitutional rights, including the right to legal representation as guaranteed by Article 5 of the Federal Constitution.
Lawyers for Liberty
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