Human rights

Release Nasrin Sotoudeh - international legal community takes new action

An international coalition of legal professional bodies has urged the immediate release of Nasrin Sotoudeh almost a year after she was sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes in Iran.

The call was made as the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) announced the recipients of its 2019 Human Rights Award - four Iranian lawyers currently in prison: Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Najafi, Amirsalar Davoudi and Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Bar leaders and lawyers from across the world will participate in #1minute4Nasrin – sharing video messages of support for the Iranian lawyer imprisoned since December 2018.

The Law Society of England and Wales has issued a joint statement from the Bar Associations and Law Societies of the G7 countries calling for Sotoudeh’s immediate and unconditional release, the withdrawal of all charges, the vacation of convictions and sentences, and the end to acts of harassment against the lawyer.

On 30 December 2018 Sotoudeh was tried in absentia, without a legal representative of her choosing, on charges including "assembly and collusion against national security" and "appearing at the judiciary without Islamic hijab".

“A year on from her arrest and conviction, the international legal community has not forgotten,” said Simon Davis, Law Society president.

“It is a basic principle of our profession, established by the UN, that no lawyer should experience improper interference in carrying out their professional duties. The repeated proceedings against Nasrin Sotoudeh constitute nothing short of judicial harassment.

“Despite previous calls for her release, the situation remains unchanged - she remains in prison. Today we take the unprecedented step of calling on Bar leaders and lawyers across the world to take part in a global online action, urging Iranian authorities to release this lawyer immediately.

“Sotoudeh’s conviction, the imposed sentence, and her continued imprisonment constitute a clear violation of Iran’s international legal obligations – to respect the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, the right to the liberty and security of the person, and the right to a fair trial.

“I am proud to stand alongside my colleagues of the G7 countries in defence of lawyers’ rights to practise their profession without being arrested and imprisoned for it; and to uphold the rule of law internationally.”

Notes to editors

In July 2019 the G7 Bars, comprising of leaders representing the legal professions of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, USA and UK, adopted a resolution calling for the immediate release of Nasrin Sotoudeh.

It called on the Iranian authorities to:

  • immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Sotoudeh, withdraw all charges against her, vacate any convictions and sentences imposed on her, and put an end to all acts of harassment against her
  • pending her release, to ensure the psychological and physical integrity of Ms Sotoudeh and comply with all international standards regarding conditions of detention, and
  • comply with Iran’s international obligations to ensure that members of the legal profession can carry out their professional functions without harassment and improper interference, including judicial harassment

The Council of European Bars (CCBE) represents the Bars and Law Societies of 45 countries, and through them more than one million European lawyers.

Find out more about the CCBE Human Rights Award and its past recipients

For the copy of the full statement contact Liam McCafferty (details below).

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors of England and Wales, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Liam McCafferty | 0208 049 4028

Council of European Bars contact: Karine Métayer | +32 (0)2 234 6510

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