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LEXiCON 2018: Judicial Independence, Police Accountability and Human Trafficking in Malaysia.

Law symposium LexiCon 2018 was held on 20 January 2018 at Brickfields Asia College’s Petaling Jaya campus from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm at the Cambridge Room. The event – a collaboration between Kesatuan Penuntut Undang-Undang Malaysia di UK (KPUM) and the Asian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) – brought together 103 law students from various institutions across the country to discuss and share views and insights on topics pertaining to the Malaysian legal landscape.

Vice President of KPUM and ALSA Malaysia kicked off the event with a brief introduction to KPUM and ALSA, followed by sessions that focused on three topics: Judicial independence; the rule of law and police accountability, and human trafficking in Malaysia.

The first session of the day was on the topic of judicial independence in Malaysia, and featured Founding President of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affair (IDEAS) Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin Tuanku Muhriz as guest speaker, and Surendra Ananth from Malik Imtiaz Sarwar Advocates & Solicitors, who is also a former President of ALSA International. Among the issues discussed include the independence of the judiciary, the role of the rule of law, and the doctrine of separation of powers from a politically neutral point of view. The learned speakers also addressed several questions from the floor.

The second session on the rule of law and police accountability began after lunch and featured three speakers: Executive Director of Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) Sevan Doraisamy; criminal lawyer and member of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Task Force on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Sivaraj Retinasekharan, and M. Visvanathan, founder of Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together (EDICT), Malaysia’s first NGO focused solely on combating abuse and deaths in custody. The moderator for the session was Rajsurian Pillai, a member of the Task Force on IPCMC and a human rights lawyer.

The speakers, all of whom have worked extensively on areas relating to personal liberty and freedom of expression, shared their experiences when dealing with cases of deaths in police custody. This was followed by an illustration of actual cases through a slideshow presentation. The participants were heartened by the tenacity of the human rights defenders and the growing public awareness on fundamental rights issues.

The third and final session explored the issue of human trafficking in Malaysia, including student trafficking. Elroi Yee, a senior producer of the R.A.G.E team at The Star, shared an original documentary series called STUDENT/TRAFFICKED, in which the journalists infiltrated an international human trafficking ring and provided insight into the student trafficking trade. The investigative journalism piece uncovered a network of deceit and exploitation that robbed Bangladeshi students of their money and education, and the cruel reality of their daily lives as trafficking victims. The team also went undercover to experience and expose the desperate living conditions of migrant workers in Malaysia.

The session was followed by a talk on human trafficking by C. R. Selva, a former Prosecutor who has vast experience with the Malaysian Immigration Department. He covered a wide range of immigration issues and highlighted the complex problem of human trafficking and migrant smuggling, emphasising that these issues deserve more attention from the community.

At the close of the event, the emcees for the day thanked the participants for attending and the working committee of LexiCon 2018 for ensuring the success of the symposium. Future instalments of the LexiCon symposium aim to continue empowering law students with strong knowledge of Malaysian law and provide more opportunities for similar collaborations.