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Alegria and Barovick, LLP

As a partner at Alegria & Barovick LLP, Andrew Barovick undertakes litigation to obtain the Social Security benefits to which his clients are entitled. Some of his cases branch into the civil rights arena. Accordingly, Andrew Barovick stays abreast of civil rights issues and cases.

Maria Chin Abdullah, a prominent civil rights figure in Malaysia, was controversially arrested in November under the country’s antiterrorism laws, before being released just over a week later.

The 59-year-old mother of three serves as the chair of the country’s pro-democracy coalition, Bersih, which regularly holds rallies in Kuala Lumpur pressing for government reform. On November 18, the day before a large Bersih rally, Abdullah was arrested under Malaysia’s Security Offenses Act of 2012, designed to catch and detain terrorists.

Amid a presidential corruption scandal and push for election reform, Abdullah was arrested for possessing documents the police claimed were detrimental to the country’s democracy. After her arrest, Abdullah was placed in solitary confinement, under conditions described as “deplorable” by Amnesty International. Abdullah’s lawyer, to whom the leader was denied access during her time in confinement, said the police had no choice but to free her because there were no grounds for Abdullah’s detention.

Maria Chin Abdullah’s arrest lends credence to Human Rights Watch’s October warning regarding the Malaysian government’s crackdown on those criticizing Prime Minister Najib Razak and his administration.