New Zealand Law Society - IBA says Iran move will deny detainees access to counsel

IBA says Iran move will deny detainees access to counsel

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The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has condemned a proposed amendment to Iran’s Code of Criminal Procedure that will allow, it says, judicial authorities to deny some detainees access to counsel for a period of 20 days.

IBAHRI says national security, terrorism and financial crimes are among the types of offences to which the proposed amendment will relate while charges are being investigated.

“The proposed legislation would severely undermine the right to counsel, without which there can be no meaningful right to a fair trial. The passage of the amendment would mark a serious deviation from Iran’s obligations under international law and under its own Constitution,” says IBAHRI Co-Chair, Michael Kirby.

“The absence of counsel during interrogations is particularly alarming, as it will likely make detainees more vulnerable to other rights violations, including compelled confessions and torture.”

Furthermore, Mr Kirby says, the intended amendment will allow authorities to extend the 20-day ban virtually indefinitely by issuing an order ‘prohibiting the presence of a lawyer’.

Meanwhile, IBAHRI is condemning the potential execution of a teenager arrested when he was 13 years old in Saudi Arabia.

It says Murtaja Qureiris, who is now 18, has been held in detention since 2014 on charges that include attending the funeral of his brother who was killed in a protest in 2011, joining a ‘terrorist organisation’, throwing Molotov cocktails at a police station, firing a weapon at security forces and participating in anti-government protests. Mr Qureiris maintains the demonstrations were held peacefully.

“The imposition of the death penalty against persons who were minors at the time the alleged offences were committed violates Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Articles 10 and 12 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights,” says Michael Kirby.

“If Saudi Arabia goes ahead with the proposal to impose the death penalty in the case of Murtaja Qureiris, it will horrify civilised countries and their people. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute calls on the Saudi authorities to renounce such punishment and to uphold the basic human rights of all, in particular the young.”