In almost a century of existence, the Bar Association has always been a public entity endowed with its own powers and independent of any State bodies, acting freely and autonomously on behalf of a professional class, but having as its primary attribution the defense of the State of Law and the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens, collaborating in the good administration of justice.
It was like this in the course of time, passing through the dictatorial regime of the Estado Novo, through the revolutionary excesses resulting from the post-April 25th and in the fullness of the democratic regime, always symbolizing an institution that spoke and criticized the citizen before power.
The Order of Lawyers, in the performance of its mission, has never had the habit of wanting to please the installed powers, its highest representative is most of the time an uncomfortable voice and a denunciation of what is wrong with the existence of the country and society in which we live.
The interventions of the presidents António Pires de Lima, António Marinho e Pinto or Luís Menezes Leitão, just to name a few, were heard and represented the protest when necessary, being at the same time an added value that was part of the solution of the cases denounced through all possible legal means at your disposal.
That was and is the role of the Bar Association in Portuguese society.
In recent days, the Constitutional Court has validated the new law on professional public associations.
All the work of the Bar Association, together with parliamentary groups, the media, the different debate forums, with which those who represented the class in the last three years fought for the survival of a free and independent institution, was left behind.
In the last elections for the direction of the Order of Lawyers, the passage to the second round of the electoral dispute of the most extremist positions was verified, losing the time of reason.
For the current president’s winning line, this is a theme that even deserved its agreement in general terms and did not even make major criticisms of the external influence on the activity of the Bar Association.
We are faced with an unprecedented interference in the Bar Association, moving from formal legal protection, as has always existed, on the part of the Ministry of Justice, to supervision of its activity, which, in practice, is now centered almost exclusively on the representation of its associates. .
Lawyers are the only liberal profession that is part of a sovereign body and with constitutional recognition such is their relevance as a fundamental and essential axis in the administration of justice and wanting to deprive their Order of its action to defend the public interest, its freedom and autonomy, is an ax to the rights, freedoms and guarantees of each citizen and society as a whole.
The members of the governing bodies of the Bar Association are elected by their peers, exercising their functions voluntarily, independently and immune to any pressure on their activity. Now, the direct election of members will be allowed, who will now have functions of supervision and assessment of the legality of the activity of the Bar Association, thus undermining the democratic formation of the associative bodies, which presupposes an election of the holders of the positions.
This open road of limitation and external control of the action of the Bar Association deserved a lukewarm reaction on the part of its leaders who are currently reflecting on the matter.
We now realize the premonition suggested by the image accessory that the current president is so proud to show off: it’s not a scarf… Unfortunately, it’s a gag!