We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, are concerned with the contempt proceeding initiated by two loggings companies against Charles Hector and the eight villagers affected by the logging activities of the two companies.

The companies contend that Charles Hector, as the lawyer representing the eight villagers, breached a court injunction when he wrote on behalf of his clients to a Jerantut Forestry Officer seeking clarifications.

The contempt proceeding against them would adversely affect the eight villagers’ right to a fair trial. The contempt proceeding against them effectively prevents them from accessing their preferred choice of lawyer by restricting the ability of their lawyer to advocate for them. The proceeding also potentially circumvents their ability to source witnesses and evidence in support of their case.

Furthermore, a contempt proceeding against a lawyer representing his or her client’s interest in this manner will have a chilling effect on the profession. A lawyer must be able to provide legal services to their clients to the best of their abilities, free from threats, harassment, intimidation, or retribution. It is a state responsibility to ensure the safety of lawyers and enable them to right to defend their rights as human rights defenders. Lawyers should not be threatened and ever fearful of contempt proceeding against them when acting in their client interest.

We will be closely monitoring the development of the contempt proceeding and calls for the trial judge to consider the implications and impact that a finding of contempt would have upon the legal profession and the right to a fair trial in Malaysia.

Endorsed by,

All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN)
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
Justice for Sisters
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) Civil Rights Committee
North South Initiative
Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy (TBHTD)

Ahsan Ahmad
Anwar Faizal
Dr. K.N. Singh
M. H. Choy
Siti Kasim

Photo: Unsplash

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