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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Religious authorities need warrants for raids, lawyer says

Syariah lawyer Nizam Bashir says religious authorities can be sued for conducting a raid without a warrant.

PETALING JAYA - Religious authorities need to produce a warrant and be accompanied by police personnel before conducting a raid, syariah lawyer Nizam Bashir said.

He said this practice applied to both closed-door and public events.

“It’s simply a matter of whether a search can be done, irrespective of whether it’s in a closed environment or otherwise,” he told FMT.

Nizam was commenting on lawyer Siti Kassim’s claim that religious authorities’ flouted standard operating procedures when they allegedly gatecrashed a closed-door dinner event without police personnel accompanying them.

In a Facebook post, the activist said she was at a closed-door dinner organised by the transgender community when she saw a group of Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) enforcement officers at the back of the room.

The officers were not accompanied by any police personnel. Neither did they produce warrants.

When asked if the religious authorities could be taken to court, Nizam said: “Broadly speaking, yes, but the individual to be sued will be an interesting issue for the courts to deliberate upon.”

Another lawyer, who spoke to FMT on condition of anonymity, said it was high time the authorities faced reality and realised that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) community did not choose to be the way they were as it was the “work of nature.”

As human beings, the transgender community should be treated just like everyone else.

“We should be more sympathetic towards them. It is not a black and white situation as there are some grey areas.

“I don’t understand why they (the authorities) should put down another human being just because they were born differently.

“I know no religion would condone such inhumanity,” he said, adding it was society’s responsibility to include them as part of the community instead of ignoring them in the hope the “problem” would go away.

By doing so, the lawyer warned, the transgender community would be driven to drug abuse or sex slavery as it was one way to eke out a living.

The government, he added, should embark on programmes to raise awareness about the transgender community and teach others to be more sympathetic towards them the way the public was towards the homeless, orphans and AIDS patients.

The lawyer also urged lawmakers to rethink the situation and look at ways to ensure justice is provided for the community as they were considered a minority.

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