According to reports, Nasrin Sotoudeh was released on September 18, 2013, along with several other political prisoners. The grounds and conditions of her release remain unclear.
Ms. Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, is known for defending juveniles facing the death penalty, prisoners of conscience and young victims of abuse. In September 2010, Ms. Sotoudeh was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison, a 20-year ban on her legal practice and a 20-year ban on foreign travel on charges of "acting against national security, collusion and propaganda against the regime, and membership in the Centre for Human Rights Defenders." An appeals court later reduced her sentence to six years.
The Law Society of Upper Canada has followed Ms. Sotoudeh's case closely, along with cases of other lawyers in Iran. The Law Society of Upper Canada has repeatedly condemned the harassment of lawyers in Iran, including the treatment of Shirin Ebadi, Saleh Kamrani, Houtan Kian, Nasser Zarafshan, and Abdolfattah Soltani.
The Law Society of Upper Canada is pleased to learn that Nasrin Sotoudeh has been released; however we remain deeply concerned about the situation of lawyers who remain in prison due to the exercise of their legitimate professional duties. International human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, state that respect for human rights is essential to advancing the rule of law.
The Law Society of Upper Canada views the release of Ms. Sotoudeh as a step in the right direction.
The Law Society urges the government of Iran to:
- put an end to all acts of harassment against Ms. Sotoudeh and other human rights defenders in Iran;
- release and guarantee in all circumstances the physical, psychological and professional integrity of lawyers whose detentions are arbitrary and aimed at impeding their human rights activities;
- take steps to ensure that lawyers and judges are not subjected to politically motivated sanctions as a result of their work;
- publicly recognize the importance, legitimacy and independence of the work of lawyers and judges; and
- continue to take steps to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national human rights standards and international instruments, are respected in all circumstances.
*The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for some 45,800 lawyers and 5,100 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 their effort to advance the respect of human rights and to promote the rule of law.