STATEMENT: On the IGP questioning lawyer Americk Sidhu

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Create Date December 1, 2015
Last Updated June 29, 2017
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STATEMENT DATED 1 DECEMBER 2015

ON THE IGP QUESTIONING AMERICK SIDHU
INVESTIGATIONS MUST REFLECT THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE POLICE FORCE

HAKAM strongly condemns the IGP’s call to question lawyer Americk Sidhu on the Statutory Declaration affirmed by his client Charles Suresh Morais which is a violation of the fundamental principle of solicitor-client privilege. This coupled with the IGP's uncalled for defamatory remarks against Sidhu smacks of harassment of a lawyer in the course of his professional duties.

As a member of the police force, an agent of the government and as a law enforcement officer, the IGP has a positive obligation to respect and protect human dignity and uphold the human rights of all persons in the performance of his professional duty. This is clearly stated in Article 2 of the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officers 1979.

A law enforcement officer cannot violate the basic principles of effective legal representation as it is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. An essential aspect of the exercise of this right is privileged communication. There cannot be effective legal representation if there is no privileged communication. This means every police officer has a duty to protect this inherent right.

Governments must also ensure that lawyers are not intimidated, harassed or interfered with in the course of discharging their professional duties. These are necessary safeguards to protect the sanctity of a solicitor-client relationship that is the basis of the right to legal representation.

Furthermore, the personal attacks on Sidhu and his client by the IGP, (apart from the lack of sensitivity) raises concerns about the lack of independence on the part of the IGP in investigating this case. In the circumstances, it is imperative that the IGP step aside and allow for the investigations to be undertaken by an officer who will act without fear or favour. This is necessary to uphold the independence of the police force and to assure the public that a thorough and unbiased investigation will be carried out into the allegations in the Statutory Declaration.

 

Issued on behalf of HAKAM Executive Committee

Ambiga Sreenevasan
President
HAKAM

 

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