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Access to a lawyer and respect for the functions of a lawyer

The general right of those who have been arrested and detained to have access to legal advice is recognised in Article 14 of the ICCPR and a variety of other instruments relating to the right to a fair trial. The promptness of access to a lawyer is also most important from the point of view of preventing torture and ill-treatment. The Human Rights Committee has stressed that the protection of the detainee requires prompt and regular access be given to doctors and lawyers[1] and that ‘all persons arrested must have immediate access to counsel’ for the more general protection of their rights.[2] Counsel must communicate with the accused in conditions giving full respect for the confidentiality of their communications.[3] The authorities must also ensure that lawyers advise and represent their clients in accordance with professional standards, free from intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference from any quarter.[4]


[1] Human Rights Committee General Comment 20, para. 11.

[2] Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Georgia, UN Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.74, 9 April 1997, para. 28.

[3] Human Rights Committee, General Comment 13, Article 14 (Twenty-first session, 1984), Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI\GEN\1\Rev.1 at 14 (1994), para. 9.

[4] Ibid.