Iran: Law Society calls for halt to executions, release of detainees and fair trials

The Law Society of England and Wales calls on the Iranian government to stop all executions, uphold the right to a fair trial and halt the arrest, detention, prosecution and ill treatment of lawyers in Iran, who play a vital role in upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights.

Our deputy vice president Richard Atkinson said: “There is an almost complete lack of access to legal representation of one’s choice for anyone arrested and charged in connection with protests in Iran.

“Protestors’ confessions have been obtained by coercion and torture and used as evidence against them.

“There is ample evidence the regime is not upholding fair trial guarantees for people who are prosecuted.

“Protestors are mostly being allocated a state-approved lawyer. Families of people being represented by these lawyers say they don’t mount a proper defence, charge extortionate fees, and are directed by judges or security forces. Protestors’ own lawyers are denied access to the courtroom.

“Such sham trials have the worst imaginable outcomes. Four people have been executed since December 2022, a further 20 have been sentenced to death and up to 100 face charges that carry the death penalty. Death sentences have also been issued for setting fire to litter bins and throwing stones.”

Trials have been brief and held behind closed doors.

  • Majidreza Rahnavard was executed just 23 days after his arrest and only two days after his death sentence was issued
  • Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini’s trials lasted less than a week. Both of their lawyers, Mohammad Aghasi and Ali Sharifzadeh Ardakani, respectively, were not permitted to represent them in court and there was no time to apply for a retrial
  • Amir Mohammad Jalali was sentenced to three years in prison and two years of exile after a trial lasting three minutes on 10 November 2022, in which Jalali had 30 seconds to defend himself

We have information concerning 66 lawyers who have been arrested and detained in Iran since protests began to spread in September 2022. Eleven of these lawyers have now been sentenced and 47 lawyers have been released on bail.

We have been able to verify the detention location of seven lawyers but there is conflicting or no information about the whereabouts of several others.

We are aware of reports the Ministry of Intelligence summoned and threatened the lawyers representing the family of Mahsa (Jina) Amini in the case concerning her death. The Ministry reportedly banned these lawyers from interviews with the media and otherwise discussing the case.

Richard Atkinson concluded: “There are indications the Iranian regime is prosecuting lawyers to deter them from providing legal assistance to protestors and others. We have also had numerous reports of lawyers being threatened and intimidated by the authorities.

“Access to a legal representative is a right established in Iranian law, as well as in international law, and must be respected and guaranteed.

“This widespread arrest and intimidation of lawyers makes legal representation impossible. It prevents the functioning of the administration of justice and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the many people in detention and facing trial in Iran.”

We are calling on the Iranian authorities to:

  • halt all executions of the death penalty and refrain from imposing such a sentence, including on minors
  • ensure access to legal representation of their own choice for all those arrested and detained, including minors and those facing a death sentence
  • ensure respect for fair trial guarantees in any proceedings
  • immediately and unconditionally release all lawyers and human rights defenders who have been arbitrarily arrested and detained and drop all charges against them
  • pending their release, guarantee the psychological and physical integrity of the lawyers and human rights defenders, and comply with international standards on conditions of detention
  • guarantee that all lawyers and human rights defenders in Iran can carry out their professional activities without intimidation, hindrance or improper interference

Notes to editors

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