The Law Society of England and Wales Monday called for the Iranian government to allow protesters access to legal representation and to stop the arrest, detention and ill-treatment of lawyers. The call was prompted by the Iranian government’s response to nationwide protests following the death of Masha Amini.
A recent JURIST Iran dispatch described how lawyers are barred from defending political detainees, like those arrested at protests, and face potential arrest if they attempt to represent the detainees. Lawyers recently gathered in protest in front of the Iranian Central Bar Association before Iranian forces dispersed the group with tear gas and arrested some lawyers. According to the dispatch the crackdown has been so severe that “[s]ome lawyers who inform about the rights of detainees on their Instagram and Twitter pages have been arrested.”
In a joint statement, the Law Society and Lawyers for Lawyers, an independent organization that helps protect lawyers’ right to practice law, expressed their concern for multiple lawyers who have been arrested and detained in Iran. They called for the Iranian government to:
Immediately and unconditionally release all lawyers who have been arbitrarily arrested and detained and drop any charges against them; Pending their release, to guarantee the psychological and physical integrity of the lawyers and comply with international standards on conditions of detention; and Guarantee that all lawyers in Iran are able to carry out their professional duties without intimidation, hindrance or improper interference.
The Law Society also emphasized that Iran has an obligation to follow the rights set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Since 1975, this covenant has ensured that a person’s right to life, right to a fair trial, and right to be free from torture and ill treatment, are protected. The Law Society warned that not respecting these rights “creates a chilling effect and a climate in which lawyers may no longer be willing to represent clients.”