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Iranian Bar Associations: Struggle for Independence

3-      The Bill is drafted without taking into consideration the opinions of experts and the drafts previously prepared by the Bar Association, The Research Centre of Parliament, The Judicial Development Deputy of the Judiciary and the draft dated November 23, 2011 proposed by 153 Members of Parliament which was referred to the Judicial and Legal Commission of Parliament.
4-      Regarding the allocated duties to the Bar Association under the Law of Attorneyship and the Law of Independence [of the Bar Association] and the relevant regulations, during the last six decades the professional problems have been always considered by the authorities of the Bar. Thus, any preparation of bills regarding the profession of attorneyship by inexperienced individuals and without paying attention to the problems, not only is not true or reasonable but also does it contradict with constitutional duties of the Judiciary. Therefore, the Bill drafted by the Judiciary which ignores the problems and merely aims at interfering with the affairs of the Bar Association, in no way may be supported by the 40 thousand member society of attorneys.
It is therefore advisable that a commission, consisting of the equal number of the representatives of the Judiciary, Bar Associations and the Research Centre of Parliament, to be established in order to prepare a comprehensive and complete draft.

The issue even went beyond domestic levels: international bodies declared their concerns about the new plans of the IRI for the Iranian Bar association.  The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), for example “join[ed] the bar associations in Iran in objecting to the amendment as totally compromising the independence of bar associations in Iran.”[24] Justice Richard Goldstone, Co-Chair of the IBAHRI said “This amendment eviscerates the independence of Bar Associations in Iran, compromising their ability to represent their clients and silencing any opportunity to be critical of the government … Lawyers cannot adequately and properly perform their duties whilst subject to governmental controls over their qualifications and ability to practice.”

Finally, it is worth noting that the 8th round of Parliament was ended recently and the next round has started their work. Therefore, it is up to the current Members of Parliament to choose between working on the “Bill of Attorneyship” proposed by 153 MPs or the “Bill of Formal Attorneyship” prepared by the Judiciary.

Judicial Order to Close the Union of the Bar Associations

In the most recent round of attacks on the Bar Association, on November 6, 2012, just two days before the annual entrance exam of the Bar, a judicial order was issued that ordered the closure of the Union of the Bar Associations. Referring to the investigations through the relevant bodies including the Interior Ministry, Organization of Registration of Companies, Tehran Tax Affairs Organization, and in accordance to the Procedure Code and the Law of Punishment of Embezzlement, Bribery and Fraud, the abovementioned order obliged the Third Base of the Police Force of Tehran to shut down the Headquarters of the Union in Tehran after inspecting and recording its belongings. In fact, the Interior Ministry had declared that the Union of the Bar Associations was not registered and no permission was issued for it.[25] The legal community was absolutely shocked when the news was published, especially when it was revealed that no judicial paper was noticed regarding the investigations nor were the Directors of the Bar informed. Apparently, after the negotiations between the Directors of the Bar and the high ranking judicial authorities the enforcement of the said order is suspended.[26]

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