Committee Reports

Letter in Opposition to Attorneyship Bill in Iran


City Bar President Debra L. Raskin sent a letter to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, expressing concerns about the Comprehensive Bill on Attorneyship and Legal Advice currently before the Iranian legislature and asking that the legislation be withdrawn or significantly amended. The bill, if enacted, would place Iranian bar associations under the direct control of government institutions and impose severe constraints on the ability of Iranian lawyers to conduct their profession in accordance with internationally recognized obligations to their clients. The contemplated restructuring would create a “Supervisory Commission,” under the direct control of the Iranian judiciary, with oversight over the leadership, budgets and financial affairs of bar associations. It would impose restrictions on freedom of association, expression and religion for membership in the legal profession, including religious qualifications and restrictions on expression and association that would permit authorities to deny admission to the bar and to revoke existing attorney licenses in an arbitrary, retaliatory or discriminatory manner. The proposed law would also authorize a variety of governmental officials and entities to question attorneys’ qualifications and refer them to the supervisory committee for review of their licenses—empowering the government to directly interfere with attorneys’ exercise of their professional obligations under threat of having their licenses suspended or revoked. The letter was spearheaded by the International Human Rights Committee.