Iranian New Year: situation of lawyers on the ‘Nowruz’
سال نو مبارک (happy new year)! Today marks the start of the Iranian New Year. Unfortunately, the ‘Nowruz’ does not seem to bring prosperity and happiness for many human rights lawyers who have been detained and prosecuted by the Iranian authorities.
Attacks on lawyers have intensified in Iran in recent years. Lawyers are facing judicial harassment as a consequence of their legitimate professional activity. Lawyers for Lawyers recently campaigned for the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh and Amirsalar Davoudi. According to our information other lawyers have also been arrested or have faced prosecution such as Mohammad Najafi, Farokh Forouzan, Mostafa Daneshjoo,, Payam Derafshan and Zeynab Taheri.
Nasrin Sotoudeh and Amirsalar Davoudi
In the new year, Lawyers for Lawyers asks special attention for the dire situation of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh through the #FreeTheLawyers Campaign. Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes after being tried in absentia and without access to a legal representative of her own choosing. The charges against Nasrin Sotoudeh were, amongst others, ‘’inciting corruption and prostitution’’, ’’openly committing a sinful act by… appearing in public without a hijab’’ and ‘’disrupting public order.’’ The lives of prisoners (in Iran) are in serious danger because of the spread of the COVID-19 and the high possibility of it reaching prisons. It was reported that Nasrin Sotoudeh started a hungerstrike as a ’’last resort’’ because prisons in Iran are lacking of crucial medicines and sanitary supplies against the COVID-19.
Also Iranian human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi has been on hunger strike since 9 February 2020. He was sentenced to 29 years and three months in prison, 111 lashes and a fine of 60 million rials ($450). The charges against Davoudi are the ‘’insulting the Supreme Leader’’, ‘’spreading propaganda against the system’’ and ‘’forming a group with the purpose of disrupting national security.’’ These charges seem to be connected to his legitimate activities as a human rights lawyer. On 9 February 2020, Amirsalar Davoudi began a hunger strike in protest at the Iranian authorities’ refusal to grant him prison leave.
UPR of Iran
On 12 March 2020, Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute delivered an oral statement during the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council. During this session, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Outcome Report of Iran was adopted. Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute called on the Iranian authorities to effectively implement the accepted UPR recommendations on the role of lawyers without delay and to take immediate measures to ensure that sufficient safeguards are in place to guarantee the full independence of lawyers and their effective protection against any form of undue interference in their work, including their prosecution on improper grounds.
Prospects of improvement; call upon Iranian authorities
The ‘Nowruz’ does not seem to promise any improvement for Iranian Lawyers. Lawyers for Lawyers has grave concerns about the situation of lawyers in Iran and urges the Iranian authorities to ensure that all lawyers in Iran can carry out their professional duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions. Specifically, Lawyers for Lawyers calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nasrin Sotoudeh and Amirsalar Davoudi and all other lawyers detained in connection to their professional activities.
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