IRAN: Lawyers’ defence work repaid with loss of freedom

01 October 2010

Joint Statement by Shirin Ebadi, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI), the Union Internationale des Avocats and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). 
 

Nobel Peace Laureate and Iranian lawyer, Dr Shirin Ebadi, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Federation for Human Rights, the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI), the Union Internationale des Avocats, and the World Organisation Against Torture, today condemned the continued detention without charge or trial of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in Iran and called for her immediate and unconditional release as she is held solely in connection with her work defending others. 
 
They warned that her arrest is the latest step in a series of measures intended to prevent Iranians – particularly those critical of the authorities – from being able to access appropriate, competent legal representation, a basic right and important fair trial guarantee. 
 
Nasrin Sotoudeh, the mother of two young children, has defended many high profile human rights campaigners and political activists, including journalist Isa Saharkhiz and Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, leader of the banned Democratic Front of Iran.  The former was sentenced and the latter tried after Nasrin Sotoudeh’s arrest.  She has also represented juvenile offenders facing the death penalty and is acting as the lawyer for Shirin Ebadi in several cases.
 
She has been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison since 4 September 2010 after she presented herself in compliance with a court summons.  Since then she has only been allowed to make three telephone calls – two to her home and one to her lawyer, but so far has not been allowed visits by her family or her lawyer. 
 
The precise reasons for her arrest are still unclear, but the summons listed “propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding with the aim of harming state security”.  These vaguely worded charges are among several articles in the Islamic Penal Code in Iran relating to “national security” which criminalize activities that are nothing more than the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Such provisions have previously been used to prosecute lawyers for statements and activities in defence of their clients.
 
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For more information please contact:
 
 
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
8, rue du Vieux-Billard, Geneva, Switzerland
Tel.: +41(0)22 809 52 42/ Fax.: +41(0)22 809 49 29
www.omct.org

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