“Free the lawyers” BHRC and Bar Council sends letter to Iran

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BHRC and the Bar Council  sent a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei calling for the release of lawyers and other persons arrested for their work defending others’ rights.

The letter raised particular concern for Abdolfattah Soltani and Narges Mohammadi who have spent their legal careers advocating for the rule of law in Iran.

Abdolfattah Soltani, the lawyer and co-founder with Dr Shirin Ebadi of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (DHRC) is currently serving a 13-year sentence for “spreading propaganda against the system”, “endangering national security” and “setting up an illegal opposition group”. He was also charged with “accepting an illegal prize” relating to his acceptance of the Nuremberg International Human Rights
Award.

Narges Mohammadi, the prominent campaigner against the death penalty (especially for minors) and Vice President of the DHRC, was arrested and sentenced to six years imprisonment in 2012 for “meeting and conspiring against the Islamic Republic,” and “spreading anti-government publicity”.

In its letter, BHRC and the Bar Council called their arrest “a clear and continuing breach of international law,” and recognised that their plight is not an isolated incident.

BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC said:

“Iran has an international legal obligation to allow its lawyers freedom to perform their professional functions. it is in breach of that obligation. President Rouhani has an opportunity to deliver upon his original campaign promise of greater respect for civil and political rights by urgently addressing the imprisonment of its lawyers.”

The Chair of the Bar Council, Andrew Walker QC said:

““Strong and confident nations recognise the role played by independent lawyers in upholding the rights of their citizens and others, and they protect the right of lawyers to act for their clients without fear or interference, including in cases that bring those clients into conflict with the state itself.  We hope the authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran will respond to calls from the international community by respecting and defending the role of Iranian lawyers.”

You can read the full letter here.

You can read the Independent’s coverage here.

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