Wrong to hold organiser responsible for forum fracas, say lawyers

PETALING JAYA: It is a misrepresentation of the provisions of the Peaceful Assembly Act to put the responsibility for the fracas at the "Nothing to Hide" forum on the organisers, lawyers told theSun today.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan (pix) said while the Act does provide for certain responsibilities on the part of an organiser of an assembly, these do not go beyond what is reasonably expected of organisers.

"This is a misrepresentation of the provisions of the Peaceful Assembly Act. The responsibilities of the organisers do not extend to screening participants if such screening has never been done for other political assemblies.

"Also, there is no specific responsibility under the Peaceful Assembly Act placed upon the organisers of an assembly to ensure the safety of participants, as such responsibilities lie in the hands of the police."

Syahredzan said that questions can certainly be asked as to whether the organisers have done enough in terms of security, but they cannot be expected to go beyond what is reasonably expected.

"That is the police's job. It is the police that is tasked to keep the peace and ensure the safety of the people.

I have also been made to understand that they have given notice to the police as required under the Peaceful Assembly Act, so the police should have been aware and perhaps sent some personnel to the forum," he added.

He was responding to comments by Inspector-General of police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar who said security at the Nothing to Hide forum was the responsibility of the organisers.

Eric Paulsen from Lawyers for Liberty said the police are passing the buck when the overall responsibility is with the police to ensure safety of participants.

"Yes, the organisers do have a measure of responsibility just like any other organisers of events like sporting events or a concert. But here we are referring to thugs out to cause trouble, who came prepared with flares!"