Glimmer of hope for Sotoudeh and Iran crashed by Tehran Bar Association

October 21, 2014

The glimmer of hope for Nasrin Sotoudeh and Iran which I saw in my post of 6 September [] seems to have been crushed already. Yesterday, 20 october, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the joint programme of FIDH and OMCT, has received new information that on 18 October 2014, a three-member disciplinary investigation panel of Tehran’s Bar Association has now suspended Nasrin Sotoudeh’s law license for three years, based on a complaint filed by the Islamic Revolution Court’s Prosecution Office (unlike the first disciplinary panel of the Tehran Bar Association which rejected a similar request).

The Observatory  denounces the October 18th decision by the Tehran Bar Association as arbitrary, as it is based on a court judgement which was itself arbitrary. [On May 6, 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued an Opinion declaring Ms. Sotoudeh’s 2011 trial and detention arbitrary and illegal.]

Observatory notes that this the first time that a Bar Association in Iran orders the suspension of a lawyer’s license following a court order to that effect. This decision is therefore a worrying indication that the little independence enjoyed by Bar Associations in Iran is declining.

In addition, in order for Ms. Sotoudeh to formally challenge this decision by the Tehran Bar Association, she must file an appeal to the  Disciplinary Court for Judges, which is overseen by the same Judiciary that had called for the suspension of her license. This is another example of the undue influence of the Judiciary over the Bar Association’s decisions. The Observatory therefore requests the President of the Tehran Bar Association to immediately reverse this arbitrary decision, as it seems merely aimed at punishing Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh for her human rights activities.

The link below gives a very useful overview of the many actions taken against human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh, who won the EP’s Sakharov Prize and was a Final Nominee for the MEA.

Iran: Judicial harassment against human rights lawyer Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh / October 20, 2014 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

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