Abdolfattah Soltani, lawyer

Re: Abdolfattah Soltani, lawyer

To: President Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei and others

From: Gail Davidson, Executive Director of LRWC

Date: 2005-10-04

We are writing to express urgent concern about reports that Mr. Abdul Fattah Soltani, lawyer at the Bar of Tehran and a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) has been held in solitary confinement since July 30, 2005 in Evin prison, Tehran, with no right to access a lawyer or to have family members visit. LRWC is concerned that Mr. Soltani is being detained to prevent him from acting as the legal representative for the family of murdered journalist, Zahra Kazemi. LRWC knows of no legal basis for Mr. Soltani’s arrest or detention and of no evidence that could reasonably support any criminal charges.

LRWC’s information indicates that Mr. Soltani was arrested while he was peacefully protesting a warrant for his arrest and for the seizure of his personal and professional belongings: a warrant apparently issued by Mr. Saeed Mortazavi ( ÓÚیÏ ãÑÊÖæی ), the Prosecutor of Tehran.

In October 2003, the Article 90 Commission of the Majlis released a report into Ms. Zahra Kazemi’s death on June 27, 2003. This report concluded that Mr. Mortazavi was directly involved in her death, as a result of violent interrogation in Evin prison. Furthermore, Dr. Shahram Azam, a former staff physician in Iran’s Defence Ministry, found clear signs of torture, including a brutal rape.

Mr. Mortazavi also denied Akbar Ganji access to Mr. Soltani, who was his lawyer. Mr. Ganji, detained since 22 April 2000 for writing an article accusing government officials of complicity in the 1998 murder of government opponents.

In light of these factors the arrest of Mr. Soltani is most troubling.

LRWC is alarmed that there are no special provisions in place to protect Mr. Soltani. LRWC fears that Mr. Soltani, because of his legal representation of the Kazemi family, may himself be targeted with violence while in prisons. We note that there are not measures preventing the involvement of Mr. Mortazavi. As long as Mr. Soltani is deatined, LRWC will monitor his treatment.

The arbitrary detention of Mr. Soltani appears to be a violation of Article 1 and Article 9.3 (c) of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998. Article 9.3 (c), in particular, states that everyone has a right “to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Furthermore, Mr. Mortazavi and the Government should follow the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors as adopted by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in 1990. Specifically Section 2 (b), whereby states ensure that prosecutors are made aware of the ethical duties of their office, “of the constitutional and statutory protections for the rights of the suspect and the victim, and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law.”

We again urge that your government observes and obeys the provisions of Articles 1 and 9.3 (c) of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and Section 2 (b) of the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, along with all other international declarations, conventions, treaties and agreements concerning human rights.

In conclusion, LRWC is concerned for Mr. Soltani’s personal liberty and his safety. In view of the tragic and painful death of Ms. Kazemi while in prison as a result of taking photographs that someone thought might demonstrate wrong doing by other Iranian officials, we must hear from you by November 1st, 2005 regarding the following:

i. Special protection measures to ensure Mr. Soltani’s safety while he is in prison and after his release;

ii. The immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Soltani;

iii. A fair, impartial and independent trial about Zahra Kazemi’s death, in order to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice;

iv. Guarantee for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani and Mrs. Shirin Ebadi.