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Iranian Bar Association Under Government Control

By Arash Motamed, Rooz Online

With increasing pressure facing independent civil society and legal institutions, last week the administrative committee of Iran's Bar Association has disqualified nearly half of the candidates seeking to serve on Iran's bar association.

Iran's Bar Association

The official website of the Iranian Bar Association reported yesterday that 36 candidates running for management positions at the Association's headquarters were disqualified.

The Association's president, seyed Mohammad Jondoghi-Kermanipour, identified the administrative tribunal on Tuesday as the institution responsible for the disqualifying nearly half of all candidates running for office in the Association's 26th election. He said, "today we received a letter from the administrative judicial tribunal, which stated that, pursuant to their previous letter, only 43 candidates were qualified, the remaining candidates having been disqualified for failing to meet the specified criteria."

According to ILNA, other than Jondoghi-Kermanipour, other prominent attorneys such as Abdolfatah Soltani, Naser Zarafshan, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah, Nemat Ahmadi, Farideh Gheirat, Goudarz Eftekhar-Jahromi (former head of the Association), Ali Najafi-Tavana, Reza Nourbaha, Mohammad-Hossein Aghasi, Jahangir Mostofi, Akbar Sardarizadeh and Ramezan Haji-Mashadi have been disqualified from the election.

According to statistics, the disqualification rate has had a major increase compared with previous election. While two years ago, two-thirds of the candidates were disqualified, this year the administrative body disqualified nearly half of the candidates.

Experts regard the Association's role in defending the rights of political prisoners and civil rights activists as the main reason behind the government's attempt to take control of this professional body by bypassing the independent attorney members. The tribunal has not yet released any reasons for disqualifying the candidates from running for positions at this NGO. According to procedural requirements, only attorneys with prior convictions from the administrative board are disqualified from serving on the management board.

The disqualifications take place as attorneys have been planning to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Iranian Bar Association's and the national attorney's day today. The Association is known as Iran's oldest independent legal organization.

Experts regard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in the 2005 presidential election as the beginning of a new era of pressure on many independent civil society organizations, including the Iranian Bar Association.

... Payvand News - 02/27/10 ... --

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