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BASL expresses concern over Maldives’ lawyer intimidation

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) in statement yesterday expressed shock and astonishment to note the unjust and harsh treatment of lawyers in the Republic of Maldives and the disturbing manner in which they have been harassed and intimidated in order to suppress their voices and dissent.

BASL Secretary Amal Randeniya said that the BASL is of the strong opinion that all parties concerned in the Maldives must ensure an environment is created for the lawyers in the Republic to engage in their profession with dignity and respect and without fear or favour.

Statement by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka: The BASL is perturbed by the recent development which had taken place in the Republic of Maldives concerning the legal profession in which at least 54 lawyers, representing almost one-third of the Maldivian Bar, have been charged for the alleged offense of contempt of court for filing a petition demanding the Rule of Law be upheld in the nation.

“Every lawyer, irrespective of the territory in which he/she engages in their profession, has a legal and moral obligation to strive hard to uphold the Rule of Law and to stand up for the Rule of law.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers provides a framework regarding international norms for lawyers and their rights, duties and privileges.

The right to engage in a profession is a universal right recognised by the Untied Nations. Article 23.1 of the universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.Lawyers are an integral part of society and should be able to perform their duties to their fullest extent, without fear or favour. The optimal functioning of the legal profession is vital in upholding the Rule of Law in a prosperous and effective democracy.

“Therefore, BASL respectfully urges the President, the Vice-President and the Government of the Republic of Maldives to intervene and to ensure safety and security of the lawyers together with their right to engage in the profession,”the BASL statement said.