By Mansoureh Galestan
Iran regime’s lawmakers have been seeking to amend the country’s Code of Criminal Procedure. The proposed amendment would allow judicial and prosecution officials to deny certain detainees the right to access to a lawyer while an investigation against them is open.
The Iranian regime’s legal and judicial parliamentary commission finalised the draft amendment at the beginning of last week and it will be voted upon in the imminent future.
The judicial process in Iran is shameful and many prisoners have been denied the most basic rights during their detention. In 2015, a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure came into force, allowing detainees charged with certain crimes to only be able to select a lawyer from the list approved by the judiciary chief. However, even this has not been respected by the Iranian regime and many detainees have been completely denied the right to consult with a lawyer.
If Iranian lawmakers are able to pass the proposed amendment, it would represent a massive step backwards, effectively making it legal to deny detainees the right to representation.
The amendment would affect those that have been charged with “national security” offences. This broad and vague term covers a wide range of “crimes”. Those that have been charged with “national security” offences include political dissidents, journalists, human rights defenders, and others that have carried out their right to peacefully exercise their human rights.
Amnesty International has studied the bill and concluded that this “regressive piece of draft legislation” would be a breach of Iran’s obligations under international law as it would legally remove the right to a lawyer in many different criminal investigations.
Amnesty International also expressed concern about the bill, saying that if it were passed, it would serve to justify the regime’s cruel and barbaric methods of torture and abuse.
Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, Philip Luther, said: “If passed by MPs it would be a crushing blow to Iran’s already deeply defective justice system and could further consolidate patterns of torture and other ill-treatment against detainees to extract forced confessions during interrogations.”
He also highlighted that in normal circumstances, the denial of the right to consult a lawyer is shocking enough, but it is even more serious when the induvial being denied their right is facing an irreversible punishment such as amputation or execution.
This is no doubt another way for the regime to justify its barbaric practices, but it is one more reason for the international community to call the regime out and make it be held accountable for its actions.
The regime is clearly very concerned about its future because of all the pressure it is under. This is an attempt to control the domestic unrest that has been on the rise for quite some time. It believes that silencing the regime will result in longevity, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is only making the people more determined for regime change.