Human rights violations against lawyers in Iran

Who we wrote to

The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about several cases of human rights violations involving members of the legal profession and human rights defenders in Iran. We’re concerned that the following cases illustrate a clear pattern of intimidation against lawyers in the exercise of their legitimate duties as human rights lawyers.

Mohammad Najafi

Mr Najafi is a human rights lawyer and activist in Iran who called for an investigation into the death in custody of his client, following reports of alleged torture and ill-treatment in December 2017.

In January 2018, Mr Najafi was arrested and detained by the authorities in prison, allegedly for his statements and investigation into the circumstances around the death of his client.

It’s been reported that Mr Najafi has been indicted with national security charges, including:

  • “organising a group to disrupt security and participating in it as a member”
  • “propaganda against the regime”
  • “insulting the Supreme leader”
  • “spreading lies”
  • “sending information abroad”

While in detention, Mr Najafi was denied access to a lawyer of his choosing allegedly on the basis of a controversial clause included in article 58 of the Iranian Code of Criminal Procedures.

Mr Najafi's lawyer reported in March 2018 that he could not represent his client because he was not included in the list of lawyers authorised by the judiciary.

We understand that Mr Najafi was released from prison in April 2018 and summoned to the Robat Karim Prosecutor’s Office. We’re concerned that his arrest and detention has impeded his legitimate duties as a lawyer, and that his recent imprisonment may be part of a continuous pattern of threat and intimidation aimed at silencing his legitimate work.

Abdolfattah Soltani

Mr Soltani is an Iranian human rights lawyer and founding member of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Iran.

He’s been detained in Evin prison since 2011, serving a 13-year sentence for charges including:

  • “establishing and managing an association that endangered national security”
  • “propaganda against the system”
  • “unlawful association and conspiracy with the intention to disturb public security”
  • “acquisition of wealth through illegitimate means”

We understand that under the same sentence, Mr Soltani has been banned from practising law for 20 years.

Mr Soltani started a new hunger strike in March 2018 to protest his unfair trial and sentence. We understand that Mr Soltani’s medical situation has worsened and that he remains in need of medical care.

Narges Mohammadi

Ms Mohammadi is a prominent human rights defender and journalist in Iran. She’s deputy head of the Defenders for Human Rights Centre (DHRC). We have previously sent letters to the authorities about allegations of judicial harassment against Ms Mohammadi in June 2015, September 2015 and August 2016.

Ms Mohammadi was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment on charges of being a member of the DHRC, participation in peaceful assembly, propaganda against the state and allegedly harming national security.

We understand that she has been denied access to adequate medical care, despite suffering from a serious neurological disease that has resulted in seizures and could lead to paralysis.

What we asked for

We urged the Iranian authorities to make sure that:

  • Mr Najafi, Mr Soltani, Ms Sotoudeh and Ms Mohammadi are released quickly
  • adequate medical care is provided to all prisoners who suffer from serious medical conditions
  • detainees can communicate with their families while in prison
  • all human rights lawyers and defenders in Iran are free to carry out their work without threats, intimidation, harassment, restrictions or reprisals
  • all human rights lawyers and defenders can exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association in the country