Outrage at plans to scrap Iraq bar board

IRAQI lawyers are furious at moves by the country’s Minister of Justice to disband the board of the country’s Bar Association.

Justice minister Abdel Hussein Shandal has called for the Iraqi Bar Association’s board to be dissolved and has appointed three judges and two lawyers to oversee the organisation.

New Iraq Law Firm managing partner Hussein Damirji said the 23,000 Iraqi lawyers who are members of the Iraqi Bar Association were outraged.

“The board has been democratically elected and those elections should stand,” Damirji said. The board members are scheduled to stand for election in March, but this has now been thrown into doubt.

“I do not believe it’s worthwhile to disband the board when there is an election only two months away,” Damirji said. “I have confidence the new elections will take place. The lawyers will not accept otherwise. If the government wants to change the system, they should do it in a transparent manner”.

The moves have also drawn the attention of the International Bar Association (IBA), which claims the Iraqi government’s moves contravene the UN’s basic principles on the role of lawyers.

IBA executive director Mark Ellis said: “It’s important that the international procedures for appointing or dismissing officials of the Bar Association are allowed to prevail without interference from the executive.”