B. The active involvement of counsel must be provided for, whatever the nature of
the case, starting with the custody or, the very least, the investigation phase,
throughout the trial and in appeals stage
The guarantee of the right to legal defense is enshrined in Article 35 of the Constitution,
which also ensures the right to choose a lawyer.23 Article 190 of the revised Code of Criminal
Procedure (CCP) protects the right of a suspect to “be accompanied by a lawyer during the
preliminary investigations”.24 Article 48 of the CCP permits the accused to “demand
the presence of a lawyer from the start of detention.”25 26 Although the CCP guarantees the
right to free legal assistance for those without adequate financial resources, the applicability
of this right is differentiated between the pre-trial and trial phases.27 For instance, the CCP
does not ensure access to free legal assistance during the investigation phase in cases where
the accused faces charges other than those punishable by severe sentences such as the death
penalty or life imprisonment. As a consequence, safeguards provided in the Iranian legal
framework fall short to protect the accused person’s right to access legal counsel in the pretrial phase. In May 2019, the Iranian legal and judicial parliamentary commission proposed an
amendment to Article 48 of the CCP which would allow the prosecution to delay access to a
lawyer for 20 days, with a possibility of extension until the end of the investigation, in cases
related to national security, terrorism or financial corruption.28 29 Such amendment would
further restrict access to legal counsel during the investigation phase.
Such restrictions are inconsistent with the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. The Human Rights Committee has explicitly stipulated that the accused should be
granted prompt access to counsel,30 including during the pre-trial phase.31
C. Access to legal aid must be made more effective
In many reported cases, especially national security cases, defendants have reported seeing
their lawyer for the first time on their day of trial. 32 33 Prisoners reportedly remained
23

Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran < http://www.iranchamber.com/government/laws/constitution_ch03.php>
Code of Criminal Procedure of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2015) original version http://dotic.ir/print/5584
25
Code of Criminal Procedure of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2015) as referenced in the joint submission to the Human
Rights Committee from the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Impact Iran,
Human Rights Activists in Iran, 2020,
https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/IRN/INT_CCPR_ICS_IRN_42313_E.pdf
26
Code of Criminal Procedure of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2015) original version http://dotic.ir/print/5584
27
Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1327082016ENGLISH.PDF
28
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, https://www.iranrights.org/newsletter/issue/99
29
Amnesty International, www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/0379/2019/en/ ;
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/05/iran-proposed-law-restricting-access-to-lawyer-would-be-crushing-blowfor-justice/
30
CCPR General Comment No.32 <https://undocs.org/CCPR/C/GC/32>
31
HRCommittee, Concluding observations on Georgia, CCPR/C/79/Add.75, para. 27, available at bit.ly/20caB7i; HRC,
Concluding observations on the Netherlands, CCPR/C/NLD/CO/4, para. 11, available at
www.refworld.org/docid/4aa7aa642.html
32
Joint submission to the Human Rights Committee from the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, Iran Human Rights
Documentation Center, Impact Iran, Human Rights Activists in Iran, 2020,
https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/IRN/INT_CCPR_ICS_IRN_42313_E.pdf
33
HRW <https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/03/24/iran-detainees-denied-fair-legal-representation>
24

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