Law Society calls for changes to allow suspects legal counsel

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THE Law Society has called for an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) that would allow suspects access to counsel within the first 48 hours of detention.

During the opening of the Legal Year on Thursday, the society’s president, Mohamad Rozaiman DSLJ Abdul Rahman, reiterated the case for detainee rights, saying it was in the “interests of justice” for such an amendment to be made.

“It is vital and very important for an accused at this stage to know and understand why he/she is being investigated and what rights he can be afforded,” he said, addressing the legal community at the Supreme Court Building.

Currently no laws within the CPC afford suspects the right to counsel during detention.

“The CPC warrants for the detention of an accused person 48 hours before either being released or indicted.

“During these vital hours, there are times an accused person requires and seeks counsel’s advice,” said Rozaiman.

He suggested to the Attorney General that a “practice direction” or amendment to the CPC should be implemented.

“If a person in detention requests counsel, what we’re asking the authorities to do is please provide a provision enabling them to do so. Otherwise, we do not have access. We can only have access upon permission from the Royal Brunei Police Force or other authority,” Rozaiman told The Brunei Times.

The Law Society president also urged the courts to “exercise sparingly” a provision under the Misuse of Drugs Act that allows for the detention of suspects for up to 14 days without charge.

“We strongly recommend to my learned friend the honourable Attorney General to consider reviewing this provision and aligning it similar to the CPC where an accused person should only be detained for 48 hours and thereafter be released or indicted.”

The Brunei Times