Malaysian Bar will help Ops Daulat detainees

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The Malaysian Bar at its annual general meeting on March 16, 2013 observed a minute's silence in remembrance of, and in respect for, the 10 fallen Malaysian heroes who gave their lives in the discharge of their duties in defending our territory.

The Malaysian Bar is also having a donation drive amongst its members for their families.

The Malaysian Bar reiterates its support for our security forces in their efforts in defending our territory; protecting the people; and re-establishing security and peace in the conflict areas.

All Malaysians must support them in the discharge of their duties and ought not to undermine the morale of our security forces.

Ensuring the security of our territory and borders, and doing so with observance of the law and human rights standards in accordance with our international obligations are not mutually exclusive or inconsistent propositions.

It has been recently reported in the news media that there are currently 104 individuals who have been arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, and that another 232 persons are being held under different laws pursuant to 'Ops Daulat'.

In this regard, we laud the assurance given by the attorney-general of Malaysia on March 15, 2013 that all persons apprehended or arrested during 'Ops Daulat' shall be provided with access to justice and legal representation, and will be dealt with in accordance with the due process of the law.

This assurance is very much in accord with Malaysia's obligations to observe the requirements of our laws and international humanitarian law and human rights standards.

Indeed, this reinforces our commitment to the rule of law in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Bar is particularly heartened by, and welcomes, the attorney general's invitation to the Bar Council of Malaysia and the Sabah Law Association to cooperate in this regard with providing such legal representation.

The Bar Council of Malaysia accepts the invitation by the attorney-general to cooperate in the provision of such legal representation, and we shall be taking steps to meet with the attorney-general and the Sabah Law Association on this.

The Malaysian Bar notes news media reports, in particular, the foreign media, of allegations of abuse and human rights violations by Malaysia's security forces against the armed intruders, suspected collaborators and immigrants from the Philippines, and that this has triggered concerns of a brewing humanitarian emergency as Filipinos flee the state of Sabah for fear of reprisals.

The Malaysian authorities have denied these allegations.

It is plain that we must treat everyone humanely and fairly. This requires that we must not abuse prisoners or detainees.

We are obliged to provide immediate medical treatment to all who require it and to provide them with access to justice as well as to the due process of the law.

In order to correct such allegations and quash all rumours, the Malaysian Bar urges the relevant authorities to permit independent international agencies, such as the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, access to the persons arrested or detained, as well as the displaced villagers, and to the security zones as soon as the safety of such international personnel could be reasonably provided for.

This would go towards putting an end to any unwarranted accusations and dispel irresponsible rumours.

CHRISTOPHER LEONG is president of the Malaysian Bar.

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