Iran’s Nobel Peace laureate, Shirin Ebadi, has compiled a list of 41 lawyers who have been subjected to government persecution since June 2009 for carrying out their legal duties.
Ebadi, who has given the list to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said that the Iranian Central Bar Association has failed to maintain its independence, leaving it unable to defend its members in the wake of government attacks.
Ebadi stated: “One of the main responsibilities of the association is to oversee the performance of lawyers and to protect them legally. But lawyers are the least protected professional group in Iran.”
The Campaign goes on to add that the Central Bar Association has been ineffective in defending its members because its lacks independence from the judiciary, which in turn has come more and more under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence over the past two years.
The report adds that nearly all the lawyers on Ebadi’s list have represented political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and their persecution centres around their advocacy for their clients and their demand for adherence to human rights and the rule of law in Iran.
The Campaign adds: “Of the 41 lawyers, 32 have been subjected to judicial prosecution, and nine have been subjected to official persecution. Of the 32 prosecuted lawyers, eight are currently in prison, two have completed their prison terms, another 21 are awaiting their final sentences and one had all charges against him dropped.
A spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi says: “The Judiciary has essentially criminalized human rights-based representation. The legal defence community is being attacked and purged of anyone willing to represent prisoners of conscience. The point is to intimidate and dissuade Iranian lawyers from taking these cases.”
Ghaemi concludes: “It is time for the Bar to break away from the Judiciary’s control and come to the aid of its members. The International Bar Association and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers should also support the Iranian Central Bar Association and intervene in Iran’s attack on lawyers.”