Iran - October 2011

The Law Society of Upper Canada Continues to Expresses Grave Concerns about the Harassment, Arrest and Imprisonment of Human Rights Lawyers and Activists in Iran

The Law Society of Upper Canada continues to condemn the persecution of human rights lawyers and activists in Iran.

Reliable reports indicate that widespread arrest, detention and conviction of human rights lawyers continue in Iran and reflect the Iranian government’s general constraint on dissent. The Law Society of Upper Canada has repeatedly condemned the harassment of lawyers in Iran, including the treatment Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and Abdolfattah Soltani by raising its concerns with the Iranian authorities about the ongoing human rights violations against lawyers.

International human rights instruments, including the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that judicial independence and human rights are necessary to advancing the Rule of Law.

Moreover, article 16 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states “governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely; and shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics”.

Also, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, protects the right of an individual to promote the protection and realization of human rights freedoms; guarantees the right of individuals to communicate with non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and freedoms; and requires States to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of everyone against violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of the legitimate exercise of their rights.

The Law Society urges the Iranian authorities to: 

  1. immediately and unconditionally release and guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of lawyers and activists whose detention is arbitrary and aimed at impeding their human rights activities;
  2. ensure that all lawyers can carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of arbitrary detention, ill treatment or other human rights violations;
  3. put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation against human rights lawyers in Iran;
  4. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran; and
  5. uphold the Rule of Law as defined by public international law.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for some 43,000 lawyers and 3500 paralegals in the Province of Ontario, Canada and the Treasurer is the head of the Law Society.  The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the Rule of Law.

The Law Society urges the legal community to intervene in support of members of the legal profession in Iran in their effort to maintain the independence of the legal profession, to advance the respect of human rights and to promote the Rule of Law.