Iran: Demand for the release of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Re: Demand for the release of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

To: Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei; Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani

From: Hugh Gwillim, Barrister and Solicitor

Date: September 12, 2012

Lawyers’ Rights Watch of Canada (LRWC) demands the immediate and unconditional release of Nasrin Sotoudeh. LRWC submits that the conviction and sentencing of Nasrin Soutoudeh are the result of an unfair trial and therefore is not justification for her imprisonment and that her detention is arbitrary.

Ms. Sotoudeh is a prominent and long-standing human rights lawyer and activist in Iran who has represented many individuals who were arrested and charged subsequent to the June 2009 presidential elections, including Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi. She was unlawfully arrested and detained on September 4, 2009. It is reported that this occurred a few days after the unlawful search of her home and office. She is being held in solitary confinement.

LRWC understands that Judge Pir-Abbasi of the 26th Branch of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court imposed this sentence in the absence of Ms. Sotoudeh. According to this ruling, Ms. Sotoudeh has been arrested and tried on charges of “acting against national security”, “collusion and assembly against the regime,” “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Centre,” and “failing to wear an Islamic headscarf.” Ms. Sotoudeh was sentenced to a 1 year prison term for “propaganda against the regime”; a 5 year prison term for “acting against national security,” a 5 year prison term for not wearing a hijab during a videotaped message, a 20 year ban on practicing law, and is to leave the Islamic Republic of Iran after her release.

The conviction and sentencing of Nasrin Soutoudeh are the result of an unfair trial and in clear contravention of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, specifically:

Section 1. All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charges him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law…

Section 3(b). To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing.

LRWC calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to abide by the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which states that lawyers must be allowed to carry out their work “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference”. It also expressly recognizes that lawyers are entitled to freedom of expression, which includes “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”.

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada demands that the arbitrary arrests, prosecutions and sentencings cease immediately. We urge you to provide a response.

Write to LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax to advise us of your actions to do the following:

  • Release Nasrin Sotoudeh immediately and unconditionally;
  • Reunite her family and allow her to return to her work as a lawyer;
  • Ensure she is free and be protected from torture and other ill-treatment; and
  • Ensure she has regular access to her lawyer, family, and medical care.