Iran: IBA Concern over Access to Justice and Independence of the Legal Profession

To read this press release in Farsi, click here

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has expressed concern about the independence of the legal profession and access to justice in its report, Balancing Independence and Access to Justice: a report on the justice system in Iran, which is released today following a high-level delegation visit to the country in July.

The IBAHRI is particularly concerned that Iran is breaching its obligations under the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers by having established a separate stream of lawyers that lacks independence and adequate training and is managed by the judiciary.

The IBAHRI strongly urges the Iranian Government to phase out this judicially-managed stream of legal advisors, and give statutory recognition to the various Iranian bar associations as the only organisations capable of training, disciplining and admitting lawyers.

Expanded legal aid programmes and an increase to the numbers of independent and qualified bar association lawyers are further recommendations made in the report to rectify the situation of inadequate access to justice in Iran.

Fernando Pombo, President of the IBA and delegation leader said,

‘Access to justice must be available to all citizens, including those who are unable to pay legal costs.

The responsibility for guaranteeing this lies both with the Government, to fund and support legal aid programmes, and with independent bar associations, which must ensure sufficient numbers of qualified lawyers are entering the profession.

Furthermore, the Iranian Government and the Iranian Bar Association should be encouraged to educate the general public by developing public information campaigns on legal rights and responsibilities.’

The IBAHRI is also concerned by reports that the Iranian courts are over-congested, resulting in long delays in the administration of justice. To address these problems The IBAHRI recommends the urgent introduction of alternative dispute resolution and case management systems.

To read Balancing Independence and Access to Justice: a report on the justice system in Iran

The Report is also available in Farsi. Download document in "related documents" section below 

For further information/expanded commentary, please contact:

Romana St Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association
10th Floor
1 Stephen Street
London W1T 1AT
United Kingdom

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7691 6868
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7691 6544

Notes to the Editor

The delegation, consisting of IBA President Fernando Pombo, Malaysian Advocate and Solicitor Haji Sulaiman bin Abdullah, IBAHRI Programme Lawyer Felicia Johnston and Rapporteur Michelle Butler, visited Iran between 7 and 13 July 2007.

The delegation met with representatives of a wide range of organisations including: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the United Nations Development Program in Tehran; the Qom judiciary; and the Iran Central, Qom and Esfahan Bar Associations. Grand Ayatollahs Saanei and Moosavi Ardebili and Mr Saeed Mortazari, the Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor, also met with the delegation during its visit.