Most difficulties with police and public departments end up not being reported – Lawyers

Some local lawyers indicated to Macau News Agency that they have experienced or heard of some difficulties when dealing with public departments or police authorities during their work but that official complaints are not usually submitted to the Macau Lawyers Association (AAM).

It was reported today (Monday) that the AAM issued a memo to its members in which it reveals that local lawyers have sometimes expressed difficulties in dealing with judicial magistrates, prosecutors, Judiciary Police (PJ) officers and other members of the judicial sector.

The association urged members who have faced restrictions or impediments on the exercise of their profession to inform the association of such instances so that it can take the necessary measures to protect lawyers in the exercise of their profession.

MNA contacted the AAM President, Jorge Neto Valente, who stated the matter was an internal memo and refrained from commenting on the issue.

Of the six lawyers contacted by MNA, four indicated to not have heard of the issues raised by the memo, but with two lawyers revealing some difficulties when dealing with police authorities or public departments.

“I haven’t had issues with examining magistrates but with police, yes. More than once defendants are detained, the family informs us and we spent hours and hours [finding them] and when we do they are already in the Public Prosecution Office (MP) […] Sometimes the MP doesn’t know anything about detention, then we go to CPSP and they also don’t know about it,” the lawyer expressed.

The lawyer also noted that sometimes defendants are asked for statements without the presence of a lawyer or are requested to sign documents providing authorisation for searches in their residences.

“This search should be authorised by the defendant or the pre-trial judge […] Sometimes the defendant’s rights to a lawyer are not fulfilled […] Their rights for legal defence are not read and sometimes their pre-trial detention exceeds the 48 hours required,” Leal added.

The lawyer notes that he has sometimes raised these issues but that ended up not filed an official complaint.

“Sometimes I feel a bit frustrated. The detained person’s family asks us [about the person’s whereabouts] and we can’t help them. It makes us feel useless,” Leal noted.

Lawyer Icilia Berenguel also expressed that although she has not experienced the difficulties expressed in the AAM memo, she has heard of some issues faced by colleagues, and expressed that although she has not filed official complaints she “sometimes thinks she should’ve done so”.

The lawyer considers that there have been some issues that some lawyers have faced in the last years but that ends up not being officially expressed to the AAM.

“For example, if someone is convicted to have his driving license revoked, the driving license needs to be delivered five to 10 days after the ruling […] Sometimes the person goes to the police to deliver the license and police refuse to receive it and have not yet been notified of the court decision. So that person can incur a public disobedience crime just because police did not receive the notification?” the lawyer added.

Another issue she raised was the difficulties lawyers sometimes had in submitting and requesting documents to and from public departments, as opening hours are limited from Monday to Friday between 9:00am to about 5:30pm.

“It seems there is also some inside indication for some departments to only receive documents until 4:30pm. We don’t know where this indication comes from,” Ms. Berenguel told MNA.

The lawyer noted that, most times, the issues raised concern and difficulties in obtaining information from public departments such as Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) or the Public Security Police Force (CPSP) immigration department for cases concerning labour disputes.

“I myself don’t have any reason for complaint but have heard about these matters […] Lawyers should have priority when they are defending the rights of defendants but this is not always taken very seriously, we normally have to wait for many hours. I think it concerns lack of communication between public departments which then turns into lack of communication with the interested parties,” the lawyer noted.

“I think there are several factors that sometimes makes the process very complex when it should be simpler. If every party fulfils its role everything goes smoothly.”