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Iranian gov't is against of NGO's independent activities: secretary general of Committee for Free Elections (INTERVIEW)

Politics Materials 9 July 2009 18:00 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 9 / Trend , T.Jafarova/

Member of the Iranian Human Rights Commission, Secretary General of the Committee for Free Elections and a first class Prosecution Lawyer, Mohammad Safizadeh, spoke with the Trend Persian Desk in an exclusive interview.

Trend : Iran's Ministry of Justice has approved a new constitution, under which the Bar Association will operate within the Ministry of Justice. For you, how will the enforcement of the new regulations affect the independence of the Bar Association?

Mohammad Safizadeh:  The approved regulations cast a shadow on the independence of the Bar Association. The Bar is the only organization (it includes 12,000 lawyers) which independently operated in Iran. Former Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammed Musaddig, enabled the law to be approved by the independence of the Bar in 1953, and it withdrew from the Ministry of Justice, as well as launching its independent activity. The state does not interfere in the affairs of the Bar Association. The leadership of the organization is appointed by elections. The Bar also issued permission for lawyers to practice, but under the new charter, the association will be deprived of these powers.

Q: What do you think the reasons for the Iranian government taking such measures are?

A:  There are forces in Iran's current government who do not wish to have independently operating organizations in the country. The Bar Association has conducted independent activity for 55 years, and it has gained people's confidence. However, Ahmadinejad's government is against organizations independently operating in the country. A while ago, the office of the Human Rights Commission, headed by Nobel Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, was closed. Activities of other similar organizations were also halted.

Q: The Bar Association has 12,000 members. How will they react to the Ministry of Justice's new regulations?

A: The Ministry of Justice's new regulations contradict the Constitution. In this regard, the Bar Association and its branches must openly declare that they will not enforce the regulations. Several years ago, the state, without the Bar Association, issued a license for a lawyer to practice. This has caused serious damage to the independence of the Association. The government is trying to expand the activities of lawyers who have received a license from the Ministry of Justice. The government intends to gradually halt the activity of the independent Bar Association, and if they had the opportunity to immediately and permanently close down this organization, the government would take that step. The Iranian government is avoiding a serious scandal, which may break out in the international community. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice gives permission for advocacy, then injects a new article into the constitution, and then wants to ensure the closure of the Association. Lawyers should not execute the regulations.

Q: One of the founders of the Human Rights Commission, Muhammad Ali Dadkhah, and the head of the committee for free elections, Abdulfattah Sultani, have been arrested. What are they accused of?

A: Both of them are founders of the Human Rights Commission in Iran. This committee is the first organization in post-revolution Iran which was engaged in enforcing international human rights conventions. The commission has done much to restore democracy and human rights in Iran. So far, no charge has been imposed on Dadkhah and Sultani, like other detainees. Sultani and Dadkhah's arrests are illegal, they are innocent.

Q: Are any steps being taken to release them?

A:
It is been forbidden that lawyers be hired to defend them. Currently, Sultani is in a punishment cell. After the arrest, he was allowed to meet with his family once. Dadkhah also was arrested yesterday evening.

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