PETALING JAYA: A human rights group has called on the government to look into the actions of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in denying witnesses or suspects the right to legal counsel during questioning.
The human rights and law reform group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said all enforcement agencies including MACC must respect the rule of law and the constitution.
Zaid Malek, director of LFL, said MACC’s practice of denying access to legal counsel was “arbitrary, unlawful and unbefitting of a key enforcement agency of a democratic nation”.
In a statement yesterday, MACC had said there are legal provisions that suspend the right to counsel during the course of an investigation.
There is no specific provision under the MACC Act that grants the right to have a lawyer present while recording a statement during an investigation, the statement said.
“While it allows the accused person to have a legal practitioner present during an examination under oath, it does not explicitly grant the right to legal representation during other forms of interrogation or questioning,” MACC said.
Zaid said LFL’s action in questioning the MACC practice was “a legitimate public concern that they have chosen to ignore”.
He said the deaths of Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbani while in MACC custody, both of whom were denied access to lawyers when interrogation was conducted, were proof enough that LFL’s assertions of MACC’s denial of rights were not malicious.