Call on all charges against Uthayakumar to be dropped in recognizing a counsel's privilege

Press Statement
by Teresa Kok

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): I wish to express my grave concern at the recent arrest and re-arrest of Parti Reformasi Insan Malaysia pro-tem General Secretary and lawyer P. Uthayakumar on January 16, 2003 which involves the dilution of a counsel's privilege and human rights as a whole.

Uthayakumar had acted within the ambit and powers of a counsel and should be protected by Absolute Privilege as provided by the law of the country.

I condemn the arrest made and the subsequent charges leveled against Uthayakumar and call for all charges to be dropped in recognizing the duties and responsibilities of a counsel toward his client.

Further, an immediate investigation should be carried out by the police on the alleged mistreatment received by Uthayakumar as reported in Malay Mail dated 21 Jan 2003 as the reputation of the police is at stake. The daily reported that Uthayakumar was asked to strip and was verbally abused.

Besides, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) ought to investigate Uthayakumar's arrest and make recommendations to the authorities according to the powers conferred to the body by law as the matter involves the violation of human rights.

The nature of the case is a serious one as it would hamper the convention of lawyers to act without fear in the interest of their client. DAP will monitor the development of the said charges and will continue to expose and pressure relevant parties for improvement on treatment of persons in custody and selective prosecution.


* Teresa Kok, MP for Seputeh and Head of DAP NGO Bureau