Law students and young lawyers in Iran are reporting for JURIST on protests and related developments in Iran since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini. Here, filing separately, two of our correspondents in Tehran offer context and perspective on a new government regulation giving Iran’s judiciary the power to dismiss members of the country’s bar association just as lawyers struggle to represent people arrested in the current wave of demonstrations against the regime. For security and privacy reasons, we are withholding the names of our correspondents. Their reports have only been lightly edited.
One of our correspondents says:
The independence [of the bar in Iran] is seriously endangered. A serious threat for any organ in Iran (media, bar associations, medical examiners, even courts, etc) is that they cannot be or are not totally independent. Some are directly run and ordered to do things that are not very legal or fair and some are pressured to. Bar Associations (they are provincial in Iran) have been targeted for a while now. First, the judiciary established a parallel organ called something like the ‘The Judiciary Center of Councilors’ and members who pass the judiciary standards can be present in courts as lawyers…. Then, the parliament passed a law that basically endangered the independence of the Bar Associations and just now, a regulation that gives the judiciary the power to disbar lawyers of the Bar Associations. What has happened is horrible to the institution of independent lawyers. Lawyers are threats to consolidation of power as you know for sure. Some have been arrested these days, and now this news.”
Another correspondent reports:
In recent years many criticisms were made of the Iranian Bar Association due to its lack of support for lawyers who accept political and human rights cases. A few years ago Iran’s judiciary published a list of only 20 lawyers approved by them that persons accused of political crimes could choose to defend them in court. [This was] a violation of the right to choose a lawyer and is in contrast with the rights of the accused and Iran’s constitutional law. After widespread criticisms the list reached about 60 people but efforts continued to eliminate the possibility of lawyers defending their clients effectively, until yesterday when the Iranian Bar Association officially became a subset of judiciary. So that the judicial authorities can easily suspend lawyers from the practice of law.