Friday, 11 May 2012

Bar Council to boycott panel, wants UN rapporteur instead

The Bar Council will not participate in the independent panel formed by the government to probe last month’s violence at the Bersih 3.0 rally.

The powerful body representing 14,000 lawyers nationwide wants a United Nations special rapporteur to head the independent panel instead of former inspector-general of police Mohd Hanif Omar.

"Otherwise, the Bar Council will not participate in it,” said council’s chairperson Lim Chee Wee at a press conference following an extraordinary general meeting of the Bar, called to discuss the police crackdown on the mammoth Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.

NONE"The Bar prefers a UN special rapporteur to oversee the running of the panel and if this is complied with, then the Bar Council will reconsider its participation."

A total of 1,270 members attended the EGM to condemn the police’s heavy-handed use of force on Bersih protesters and without giving them ample time to disperse.

A total of 939 voted for the resolution while 16 voted against.

Lim also pointed out that the existing panel does not have any legal standing as it has no powers to summon witnesses to testify before the panel, unlike a royal commission of inquiry.

He said Hanif had also made adverse comments on the Bersih 3.0 rally, describing some of the protesters as communists seeking to overthrow the government.

According to Lim, it was not proper for the government to appoint Hanif to chair the panel as he had espoused such biased views.

On Sunday, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank La Rue offered to be part of the independent panel.

His offer, however, was summarily rejected by the government.

[More to follow]

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