IBAHRI renews calls for Iran to release human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani immediately

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The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) urgently calls on Iran to release human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison in September 2012 on charges which include being awarded the ‘Nuremberg International Human Rights Award’. Furthermore, Mr Soltani’s deteriorating health and the conditions in Evin Prison, where he is currently detained, are of deep concern to IBAHRI.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, IBAHRI Co-Chair said, ‘Abdolfattah Soltani has been in prison for more than three years. The IBAHRI understands that his health is worsening and he is suffering from a number of medical conditions that have not been addressed or treated by prison authorities. We would like to remind the government of Iran that, according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, all imprisoned persons should be treated with respect and in a humane manner. We are deeply concerned by Mr Soltani’s conditions of detention and reiterate our call for his immediate release.’

Mr Soltani, together with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ms Shirin Ebadi, co-founded the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) in 2001. The non-governmental organisation provided pro bono legal counsel to numerous protesters, activists and human rights defenders. In 2008, the DHRC was closed by state authorities. Mr Soltani has been persistently persecuted, and in 2009 the Iranian government prevented him from leaving Iran to collect an award from the city of Nuremberg in recognition of his civil rights work. In 2012, while imprisoned, he was awarded the IBA Human Rights Award for his courage and commitment to the rule of law and human rights in Iran. The Award was collected on his behalf by his daughter Maede Soltani and fellow Iranian lawyer Mahnaz Parakand.

In 2013, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that the deprivation of liberty of Mr Soltani is arbitrary, in violation of several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and called on the Iranian Government to immediately release Mr Soltani and provide adequate compensation.

IBAHRI Co-Chair Hans Corell commented, ‘The IBAHRI calls on Iran to observe its international legal obligations and also to respect its Constitution, which guarantees that Iranian citizens enjoy all human, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Furthermore, there is a pressing need for Iran to abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in order to ensure that lawyers in Iran are able to perform their professional duties without intimidation, harassment, interference or the threat of being prosecuted as a result of discharging their professional functions.’


Notes to the Editor

  1. Abdolfattah Soltani was initially sentenced to 18 years in prison. The sentence was reduced to 13 years on appeal. He was charged with ‘forming or running a group or association outside or inside the country which seeks to undermine the security of the country’ under Article 498 of the Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran (ten years); ‘assembly and collusion against national security’ under Article 610 of the Penal Code (five years); ‘propaganda against the state’ pursuant to Article 500 of the Penal Code (one year). In addition, Mr Soltani was convicted for ‘earning illegitimate assets’, namely the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, in accordance with Article 2 of the Law for Intensification of Punishments for Perpetrators of Bribery, Embezzlement and Fraud (two years). The court also imposed a 20-year ban on his legal practice which was overturned on appeal.
  2. For more information on the IBA Human Rights Award which Mr Soltani received in 2012, visit tinyurl.com/p29zex5
  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA administrative office is in London. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington, DC, US, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Programme (IBA ICC) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  4. Twitter handle: @IBAHRI

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