LAWYERS FOR LAWYERS
URGENTLY REQUESTS FAIR AND EQUAL TREATMENT FOR IMPRISONED
IRANIAN TOP LAWYER NASRIN SOTOUDEH
THE HAGUE, 26 NOVEMBER 2012
Iranian Embassy Crossing Hogeweg and Duinweg from 10.45 a.m. through 11.30 a.m.
The Dutch organization Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L, www.lawyersforlawyers.nl) will be heading a group of Lawyers on Monday 26 November 2012 at 11 a.m. in front of the Iranian Embassy in order to hand over a petition to the Iranian Ambassador in The Netherlands, his Excellency Mr. Gharibabadi.
This step is set on behalf of an Iranian top-lawyer, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is currently in prison in Teheran. She was sentenced to a six-year term in prison after she had spent many years defending activists and journalists and after she became a leading lawyer in cases of child abuse and women’s rights. In 2010 Ms. Sotoudeh was representing Zahra Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian dual citizen charged with security offenses. Ms. Sotoudeh has been charged with “activities against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.” Please see the attached fact-sheet for additional information.
Currently, while imprisoned, Ms. Sotoudeh receives a special treatment: until last week, she has been held in isolation, while her husband was not allowed to visit her; her children are barred from visiting her as well or are allowed only very sporadic visits for extremely limited time-slots. Her husband is not allowed to travel abroad, nor is her eldest daughter.
Ms. Sotoudeh’s protesting against this special treatment did not lead to any positive result. Therefore, she went on hunger strike on 17 October 2012 and is set to continue this hunger strike until she and her family will receive fair and equal treatment.
Lawyers for Lawyers is very concerned about Ms. Sotoudeh’s rapidly deterring health situation. “Human Rights Lawyers do not belong in prison in the first place, and under all circumstances they are entitled to decent and equal treatment like any other prisoner”, says Phon van den Biesen, President of Lawyers for Lawyers. “Apart from that, no prisoner should be punished by seeing her husband and family punished.” Therefore, Lawyers for Lawyers requests the Iranian Ambassador to transmit its request for decent and equal treatment of Nasrin Sotoudeh to the Authorities in Teheran, so she will be able to end her hunger strike
on the shortest possible notice. Lawyers for Lawyers reminds the Iranian authorities that Iran has adopted the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which instructs governments to protect lawyers that are discharging of their professional duties and to not identify them with their clients or their client’s causes.
Reference for Basic Principles: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/lawyers.htm
Fact Sheet Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iran.
As a human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh has defended many of the human rights activists who were arrested after the presidential elections in June 2009. She defended Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer and Nobel laureate who co-founded the Defenders for Human Rights Center (DHRC). She also acted as lawyer for the Iranian-Dutch Zahra Bahrami, who was executed in Iran on 29 January 2011. Next to that she has fought diligently for equal rights for women and the abolishment of the death penalty for persons who committed crimes below eighteen years of age.
On 28 august 2010, members of the intelligence service searched Sotoudeh’s office and home. Furthermore, her assets were frozen. On September 4, 2010, she was arrested.
On January 9, 2011, Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court to 11 years of imprisonment, on charges of “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the system”, “collusion and gathering with the aim of acting against national security” and “membership in an illegal organisation” (DHRC). Furthermore she was banned from practicing law and traveling abroad for 20 years. On 14 September 2011, this sentence was reduced by the Appeal Court to 6 years imprisonment and a 10-year ban on practicing law.
After the sentence was announced, Sotoudeh’s husband was summoned to appear in the prosecutor’s office in the Evin Prison, where he was arrested on 16 January 2011 and held in detention for one night. It is unclear what he is charged with, but it is believed that his arrest is linked to remarks he made in interviews he gave in connection with the case against his wife.
On July 11, 2012, Sotoudeh’s 12-year-old daughter was summoned by authorities and informed that she was banned from traveling outside the country.
In September and October 2012, Sotoudeh’s visitation day in the Evin prison was changed from Sunday to Wednesday. This was done without any legitimate ground being provided by the prison authorities. Furthermore she was only allowed to see her family members from behind a glass wall. In reaction to these measures, on 17 October 2012, Nasrin Sotoudeh went on hunger strike to protest against the above described harassment by the judicial authorities towards her family. After she went on hunger strike, her visitation day was changed back to Sunday. Her family members had been denied the right to visit her for a few weeks, except on November 12 when Sotoudeh was allowed to see her children face to face, although only for a few minutes and in the presence of the prison guards.
Following her hunger strike, Sotoudeh was placed in solitary confinement from October 31st until November 19.
On Wednesday the 21st of November Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband declared that he was allowed to see Sotoudeh for a few minutes on 20 November. Sotoudeh is emaciated due to the 5 weeks of hunger strike. Even though her husband tried to convince her to break her hunger strike, Sotoudeh told him that she will continue the hunger strike until the restrictions on visits of her family members are lifted, and the harassment by the judicial authorities towards her family ends.
Nasrin Sotoudeh was one of the three nominees for the Martin Ennals Award 2012.
In November 2012 Nasrin Sotoudeh was awarded the Sakharov Price for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.
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