rferl.org – Iranian authorities, in a move that has raised concerns about the independence of legal professionals in the country, have effectively blocked the National Union of Bar Associations of Iran from holding elections for its executive board.
According to Vakil Press, a website focusing on news about Iranian lawyers, the disruption began when the Tehran Public Places Administration issued a letter to the Parsian Evin Hotel, slated to host the Bar Association’s national convention, telling hotel management to ensure the convention does not take place.
Ali Shayanmanesh, vice president of the Fars Province Bar Association, wrote on the X social media platform that power to the hotel was cut off when the meeting was not canceled.
In a bid to salvage the meeting, the elections were be moved to the Central Bar Association’s premises, but not enough members attended the new venue and the meeting failed to reach a quorum.
The report comes amid heightened pressure from the Islamic republic’s judiciary on independent lawyers, especially those handling the cases of civil and union activists, particularly since the start of the Women, Life, Freedom protests in Iran in September 2022.
A report by a coalition of Iranian human rights activists last June
stated that, since the nationwide protests began, at least 129 lawyers
in Iran have faced judicial harassment.
The buildup to the convention was fraught with controversy, highlighted by a decree from the 5th branch of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges that challenged the legal status of the Bar Association and its elections.
Additionally, a letter from the judiciary’s legal deputy was circulated, advocating for the cancellation of the elections, a stance was echoed by the judiciary’s legal and parliamentary affairs deputy, who had earlier called for the elections to be scrapped.