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Iranian Bar Associations: Struggle for Independence

Surprisingly, as the last plan of the drafters of the new Bill to give the Supervision Commission the right to say the final word, the decisions made by the Commission cannot be challenged and shall be deemed final.

Article 123- The decisions and judgements issued by the Supervision Commission, Competence Discernment Committee, The High Council of Attorneyship, Disciplinary Courts, Provincial Organizations, as well as Executive Regulations and Directives of this law cannot be protested nor can be overturned or nullified by the Administration Justice Court and other judicial bodies.

In a piece published in Shargh daily, Bahman Keshavarz—the former President of the Bar Association—expressed:

"These kind of efforts show that a kind of Bar Association is desirable [for the government] that all its crucial decisions are made in the Judiciary; to give the license to whoever they want and deprive the others; to extend the licenses of whoever they want and simply and without any procedure not to extend the licenses of whoever they do not want; accordingly its affiliated attorneys cannot say too much. Honestly, is such a Bar Association appropriate for the Judiciary of the IRI? Are the judgements issued using [the services of] such attorneys and Bar Associations acceptable by the international community? Can we assert that we imply the Article 35 of the Constitution and provide the fair trial and right to defence for people? Would the attorneys of such a Bar Association be accepted and honoured in the world?”[22] 

Somewhere else he states:

“We can certainly expect that every lawyer who says too much or accepts undesirable clients can expect to wake up in the morning and find that his license has been revoked. Intellectuals will be punished for their thoughts, and will not be able to retain suitable counsel because all of the lawyers with the courage to work on their cases have been or will be disbarred. Blacklisted politicians will search for independent and courageous lawyers, but will not be able to find them. Even more heart-wrenching is the situation of people who confront serious judicial proceedings but will have no refuge."[23] 

Apart from the individual objections of the directors of the Bar Associations, on April 19, 2012 the Chairpersons of the Bar Associations gathered together for an urgent meeting and issued a common Statement about the new Bill:

1-      In the aforementioned Bill, the rightful demands, needs and expectations of the society, and legal, social, cultural requirements, as well as international instruments and the IRI’s Constitution and the principles of codification and impossibility of execution of the said rulings are ignored.
2-      The draft of the Bill not only denies the people’s right to defence, but also violates the foundations of the independence of Bar Associations and the indisputable principle of immunity of attorneys in the position of defence.
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Lawyers, Right to counsel