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Source: VOA

Aug 26, 2023

Iranian Forces Thwart Judiciary Lawyers' Gathering at Parliament

"Relevant authorities" in Iran intervened Saturday to prevent a protest in the capital, Tehran, by judiciary lawyers in front of the parliament, according to media reports.

As reported by Lawyers Press, several judiciary lawyers had initially organized a gathering in front of the Guardian Council building and had planned to assemble in front of the parliament afterward. However, their intentions were thwarted.

The report says that during their assembly in front of the Guardian Council, the lawyers underscored the need for the autonomy of the legal profession. They expressed that sentiment by displaying placards and banners.

Lawyers were urging the Guardian Council to annul the recent legislation passed by the Iranian parliament that strips the country's bar association of its already limited independence.

Among other things, the new legislation compels bar associations to comply with decisions made by the Regulatory Board of the Ministry of Economy. Iranian lawyers said the legislation violates international legal norms and previous regulations, which granted them some measure of independence.

According to eyewitness accounts, the Ham-Mihan newspaper relayed through its Telegram channel that the lawyers' gathering in front of the Guardian Council culminated in security personnel intervening and confiscating the mobile phones of certain attendees at the assembly.

As outlined in the report, the security personnel requested that the participants remove any pictures taken during the gathering from their mobile phones.

Highlighting the lawyers' effort to protest the decision within the parliament, Ham-Mihan reported "However, the ongoing gathering came to a halt as the concerned authorities intervened due to the absence of an official permit."

Nevertheless, the publication did not explicitly mention the identities of the authorities. Previously, instances had occurred where law enforcement personnel and plainclothes forces had engaged with demonstrators, disrupting gatherings.

Addressing the matter, Lawyers Press stated, "Even the access of buses transporting lawyers and heads of legal institutions to Baharestan Square (adjacent to the parliament) was denied."

The Ham-Mihan reported the disruption of the lawyers' peaceful assembly in front of the parliament, citing Article 27 of the Constitution, which permits the formation of gatherings and processions without arms — if they adhere to the principles of Islam.

According to information shared by Lawyers Press, the leader of the nationwide union of the Iran Bar Association (ESKODA) cited Article 3 of the Constitution during the gathering in front of the Guardian Council. That article defines the legal profession as a national right. The leader also criticized the parliamentary resolution that intends to shift the supervision of lawyers to the executive branch.

Bar Association official Jafar Kousha urged for the involvement of the judiciary and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as the head of the Constitutional Monitoring Council. He expressed optimism for dismissing the parliamentary resolution by the Guardian Council.

Under the new parliamentary legislation, the power to issue, renew, suspend, and revoke licenses for legal practice has been withdrawn from lawyers' associations and handed over to the Regulatory Task Force, which operated under the Ministry of Economy.

Many lawyers consider the resolution to be a menace to the autonomy of lawyers' associations, potentially leading to its conversion into a government-affiliated body. Consequently, numerous protest gatherings have taken place across several provinces.

Ali Tale-Zari, the head of the Golestan Lawyers' Association, stated, "Given the current situation, the autonomy of the associations will be completely eroded, and this resolution will roll back lawyers' associations to a state reminiscent of 70 years ago."

The general assembly of the nationwide union of the Iran Bar Association was scheduled to gather Saturday at Tehran's Parsian Hotel to deliberate the parliamentary decision.

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