By Gavin Mackintosh And Lucy Caulkett
The Law Society of England and Wales has renewed calls for the release of Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. The 55-year-old lawyer was detained in June 2018 after agreeing to defend women arrested for demonstrating against Iran’s hijab laws.
A joint letter from the respected and influential society in Chancery Lane, London, has been sent to the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani. The body of legal experts re-iterated objections made in August 2018 in conjunction with other bar associations against Sotoudeh’s detention..Sotoudeh won the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights award in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases, including those of convicts on death row for offences committed as minors. She spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009.
She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors. She is well respected in her field. The Law Society has honourably joined forces to add pressure in writing to the Iranian Judiciary, who will be putting the credibility of their legal system further on the line if they don’t respond. The Eye Of Media.Com has also asked the Iranian Judiciary to article in writing their justification for the arrest, and their response to appeals from both the Law Society and The European Parliament.
The letter from the Law Society highlights the ratification of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by Iran, which compel states to allow lawyers to carry out professional duties. It calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Sotoudeh, including the withdrawal of all charges against her. It also asks for the vacation of any convictions imposed in her absence and without notice to her, and put an end to all acts of harassment against her.
It calls for all authorities to strictly comply with and act in accordance with the due process rights of Ms. Sotoudeh guaranteed by the UN covenant. Finally, it calls for the guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Iran enjoy and carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment; and to now.
Iran is notorious for human rights abuses, and will be under intense pressure and scrutiny over their evil and unjustified detention of a woman acting lawfully as an attorney. She was arrested in June after defending women protesting against Iran’s hijab laws. The bright lawyer was told she had already been found guilty of collusion and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, for which she could be sentenced to six years imprisonment.
55 year old Sotoudeh was detained for agreeing to represent women arrested for standing in public areas without their headscarves. She also criticised a new criminal code that allows only a small number of lawyers to represent individuals charged with national security offences, including a list of just 20 for the capital Tehran. As a lawyer, she has a right to represent women who feel oppressed by a system known to be both excessive and evil in its operations. The court system exists to resolve issues of disputes, government’s who bypass the courts are dictators.
Last month, the European Parliament passed a resolution urging the government of Iran ‘to immediately and unconditionally release Nasrin Sotoudeh’. The resolution made references to several failings of the Iranian government in relation to breaches of Human Right Laws ‘ The resolution pointed to
substantial violations of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran described in the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. It stated that similar reports had been made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, including allegations of discrimination against religious minorities, including Christians and Baha’i. The resolution also criticised Iranian courts for falling short in providing due process and fair trials, with denial of access to legal counsel, particularly during the investigation period, and denial of consular, UN or humanitarian organisation visits; whereas sentences by the Iranian judiciary are often based on vague or unspecified national security and espionage charges.
In stark contrast to its criticism against the Iranian judicial system, the resolution commended Nasrin Sotoudeh for her courage and commitment; urges the judiciary system of Iran to respect due process and fair trial and disclose information on the charges against Nasrin Sotoudeh’.
It also called on EU member states with diplomatic missions in Iran ‘to fully implement the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and to provide all appropriate support to Nasrin Sotoudeh and other human rights defenders, including prison visits, trial monitoring and the provision of legal or any other form of assistance that they might require’.
Sotoudeh won the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights award in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases, including those of convicts on death row for offences committed as minors. She spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009.