Iran - November 2010

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.

Reports indicated that on October 10, 2010, Mr. Houtan Kian disappeared. Mr. Kian, a human rights lawyer, is well-known for representing Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman charged and convicted of adultery, whose case has attracted a considerable amount of international attention. He was arrested along with journalists who were seeking to interview the son of Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Initially, his whereabouts were unknown, but reports now indicate that the Iranian government has confirmed that Mr. Kian is in custody. 

While Iranian officials have suggested that Mr. Kian is being detained on suspicion of having involvement with anti-revolutionary groups abroad and forging/duplicating identity cards, the reports we have received suggest that Mr. Kian’s arrest is an attempt to prevent the exercise of his professional duties as a lawyer for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

In the past, the Law Society of Upper Canada has repeatedly condemned the harassment of lawyers in Iran, including the treatment of Shirin Ebadi, Saleh Kamrani, Nasser Zarafshan, Abdolfattah Soltani and Nasrin Sotoudeh by raising its concerns with the Iranian authorities about the ongoing human rights violations against lawyers.

International human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary state that judicial independence and human rights are necessary to advancing the rule of law.

The Law Society urges the Iranian authorities to,  

  1. immediately and unconditionally release and guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Houtan Kian and other human rights lawyers and activists whose detention is arbitrary and is aimed at sanctioning 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 internationally recognized principle of the rule of law .

The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for some 42,000 lawyers and 3000 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.