Prison officials accused of violating rights of lawyers   

Prison officials have been accused of violating the rights of lawyers who visit inmates to offer legal advice.

In a letter to the Prisons Department, the BAR Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said that it has been brought to the notice of the BASL by several members of the legal profession, of a serious violation of professional rights of its members which is currently taking place at several prisons throughout Sri Lanka.

“Several of our members have complained to us that Attorneys-at-Law visiting the Boosa detention camp are being subjected to unnecessary security checkups by the members of the STF. While appreciating the need to maintain security at every detention center, we have to mention that members of the legal profession are officers of Court, assisting the judicial system in the administration of Justice,” the BASL said.

BASL said that it is also reported that the lawyers are not permitted to have consultations with their clients in privacy and that the authorities insist that the consultations are held in the presence of STF/Prison personnel.

“This requirement is a serious infringement of the professional obligations of members of the Bar. It results in the breach of Lawyer Client confidentiality and leaves an extremely unsavoury taste,” the letter said.

The BASL noted that the right to obtain legal assistance and representation is a Constitutional guarantee protected through the Constitution and Section 41 of the Judicature Act of 1978 further emphasizes the right of every person to obtain proper legal representation.