Iran’s Clamp Down on Lawyers and Journalists

Chairwoman Hautala has received with great disappointment the news of sentencing of Iranian human rights lawyer, Ms Nasrin Sotoudeh to 11 years of imprisonment. Ms Sotoudeh is also prohibited from practicin law. [:]

Chairwoman Hautala recalls that the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers state that lawyers must be able to work without intimidation and recognize that they are entitled to freedom of expression, which includes the right to take part in public discussion concerning administration of justice and human rights. As a member of the UN, Iran should make effort to honor these principles, she said.

Commenting on the sentence, she added; “This sentence is shameless act of curbing independent discourse in Iran. It aims at nothing else than to prevent Ms Sotoudeh from practicing law.”

Ms Sotoudeh hardly convinces anybody as a threat to national security or propagandist. Her clients include the Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and she is known for representing, amongst others, juveniles on death row. Indeed, charges against her of acting against national security, propaganda against the system and prohibition to leave the country for 20 years all hail from archaic policies of tyrannical states. Similarly, the sentencing of journalist Ms Shiva Nazar Ahari to four years imprisonment on 9th of January for “enmity against God” and “propaganda against the system” speaks volumes of the stagnation of the state administration and judicial institutions. Country that clamps down on the best of its lawyers and journalists clearly does not aim to go forward, Hautala noted.

It seems that Ms Sotoudeh has been kept mostly in solitary confinement, since she was arrested on 4th of September 2010. She is being kept in the Evin Prison in Tehran and it is undersood that her health has deteriorated. It is understood that also her lawyer, Ms Nasim Ghanavi and her husband, Mr Reza Khandan, have been threatened by the authorities. Mr Khandan has also been summoned for interrogation.

Ignorance by the authorities of the freedom of speech and association, that this sentence demonstrates, will never succeed in quelling these rights. She must be released immediately and unconditionally, Chairwoman stressed.