9th of December – International day of the endangered lawyer
To His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmedinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
To the Honourable Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
To the Honourable Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
The AED (European Democratic Lawyers) is a federation of 8 democratic lawyer organizations residing in six European countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands).
Among its aims are to uphold the right of defense, preserve the physical integrity and freedom of lawyers from all threats that they may suffer, and ensure that citizens have real access to legal remedies and legal protection, either domestic and international.
The AED works – inter alia – on the basis of the Preamble on the function of the lawyer in the society adopted by the CCBE (council of the Bars and Law Societies of the European Union).
In a society founded on respect for the rule of law the lawyer fulfils a special role. The lawyer’s duties do not begin and end with the faithful performance of what he or she is instructed to do so far as the law permits.
A lawyer must serve the interests of justice as well as those whose rights and liberties he or she is trusted to assert and defend and it is the lawyer’s duty not only to plead the client’s cause but to be the client’s adviser.
Respect for the lawyer’s professional function is an essential
condition for the rule of law and democracy in society.
A lawyer’s function therefore lays on him or her a variety of legal and moral obligations (sometimes appearing to be in conflict with each other) towards:
– the client;
– the courts and other authorities before whom the lawyer pleads the client’s cause or acts on the client’s behalf;
– the legal profession in general and each fellow member of it in particular;
– the public for whom the existence of a free and independent profession, bound together by respect for rules made by the profession itself, is an essential means of safeguarding human rights in face of the power of the state and other interests in society.
The situation of lawyers in Iran.
Therefore, since today is the eve of the Universal Day of Human Rights, we feel obliged to take the opportunity to express to the high Iranian Authorities our great concern regarding the situation of the right of defense in Iran and the constraints, threats and restrictions suffered in recent years by many lawyers.
In 2008, Mohammad Dadkhah, Hadi Esmailzadeh, and Abdolfattah Soltani , Gheyrat Fatemeh, prominent lawyers and co-founders of the Center for Human Rights Defenders, which has just been declared illegal, were not allowed to be submitted to the Board of the Bar Association, precisely because of their activities in defense of human rights.
In June 2009, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Shirin Ebadi, a prominent lawyer and the first woman judge in Iran, apart from being the Director of the Center for Human Rights Defenders, had no option but to leave Iran because she was in fear of her life.In December 2009 her office was raided and many confidential client-files were taken away from her office.
On June 12, 2009 presidential elections were held with protests because of its controversial results. Afterwards there were hundreds of arrests of people, including many lawyers, who were not provided with proper legal protection and procedural guarantees.
Thus, on June 16, 2009, Abdulfattah Soltani was arrested and
remained in prison until August 2009.
In July of that year, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was detained along with Sara Sabbaghiyan.
Shadi Shaedr remained arrested eleven days in July 2009, and exiled shortly thereafter. Our colleague had defended women in several cases of death penalty by stoning.She is said to be sentenced to 6 years imprisonment for an alleged office against the security of the regime and 74 whiplashes(..for giving an intervieuw)
Two another lawyers, such as Danshjou Mostafa, who played defense in the case of the Dervishes of Gonabadi, were removed from their cases without any legal cause. The other one, Mohammad Seifzadeh, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment and disqualification from the practice of the profession, while their cases are pending appeal.
In May 2010 Mohammad Olyaeifard, lawyer and member of the Board of the Human Rights Organisation Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners in Iran, was remanded in custody and was sentenced to one year in prison. He was accused of committing the
crime of propaganda against the system, just for criticizing the death penalty sentences imposed on minor clients. He remains still in prison. His lawyer is Nasrin Sotoudeh.
In July 2010 took place the arrest of the wife of Mohammad Mostafaei, a lawyer who had assumed the defense of Sakineh Ashtianí, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. Our colleague was called to testify, but he managed to leave Iran and he is currently in exile in Norway with his family. In November 2010 he was sentenced in absence to six years imprisonment and without being heard, for an alleged offense against the security of the regime.
On August 28, 2010 Nasrin Sotoudeh suffered a raid on her home and office and her bank accounts were frozen. Sotoudeh had defended numerous human rights activists, feminists and children who faced the death penalty. On 4 September she was summoned to appear in the Evin prison without being allowed her lawyer, Nasrim Ghanavi, to attend the interrogation. Nasrim Sotoudeh remains detained ever since, with severe limitations in communications with her lawyer and her husband and in hunger strike for fourty days. She is accused of “acting against national security”, “illegal association and conspiracy to disrupt national security” and “cooperation with a human rights organization.” Her trial, initially held on November
15, has been postponed to November 24.
The last attorney of Sakineh Ashtiani, Javid Houtan Kian, was arrested along with the son of the above said defendant, while they were being interviewed by two German journalists. Both of them still remain in the prison of Tabriz.
Lastly, on November 13, 2010, three lawyers were arrested at Tehran
Khomeiny airport when returning from Turkey. One of them, Sara Sabbaghiyan, was the new lawyer of Sakineh Ashtiani. Kiyan-Ersi Maryam was the lawyer of Mohammad Mostafaei himself, and also before him defended another Iranian citizen, Kobra Naija. The latest had also been accused of adultery and was proposed for the death penalty by stoning. The third arrested lawyer is Maryam Karbasi.
The Attorney General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi confirmed that two other lawyers, in relation to the detention of the three aforementioned colleagues, were also arrested. Their identity has not been provided yet, and their whereabouts are ignored. These two detainees could be Rosa Gharachaloo or Gharachozoou and Mohammad Hossein Naiyri.
The UN – HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
We have noticed that the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations General Assemblee –in her meeting on the 18th of November 2010 – has expressed her grave concerns about the human rights situation in Iran based on numerous cases of human rights violations.
All Lawyer organizations ,united in the AED _European Democratic Lawyers would like to draw your attention on the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August to 7 September 1990.
Art 16-Guarantees for the functioning of lawyers
Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
Art 23-Freedom of expression and association
Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have
the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the Legal profession.
Therefore, we require the following:
-The immediate release and replacement in their duties as defenders to all colleagues who suffer persecution related with the exercise of their profession.
-A full and free exercise of their independent advocacy role.
-Iran Bar Association activities must be allowed without any limitations.
-Lawyers must be able to communicate freely and without restrictions with their clients and to have free access to court records concerning their detention.
-To provide all Iranian lawyers with the freedom that their profession requires and to ensure –for the future –in Iran –the implementation of the abovementioned international standards as the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Fact Finding -mission
Moreover, in order to be able to get first-hand and objective knowledge of the real situation of the rights of the defense and the defenders in Iran and the situation of our detained colleagues, we would like you to convey to your government a request for authorization for an international delegation of lawyers of the AED/EDL to visit Iran in the near future . Our purposes would be to meet members of the Iranian Government, judicial authorities, our fellow members of the Iranian Bar Association, and to visit in prison all those colleagues who are currently detained.
We also welcome any information that you may provide to us about the current situation and developments in the cases for which we have shown our concern.
In the confidence of a positive response to our demands, we are looking forward to hearing from you soon.
A copy of this letter will be handed over at the different Ambassadors of Iran.
1. President of the A.E.D.:
2 + 3. Coordinators of the commission Defence for the defence:
Mr. Hans Gaasbeek
Mr. Ivonne Leenhouwers
4. National coordinators