Iran - April 2012

Law Society of Upper Canada Continues to Expresses Grave Concern 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 state that Iranian lawyers Javid Houtan Kian, Abdolfattah Soltani, and Nasrin Sotoudeh have recently been sentenced to prison. The reports we have received state that Mr. Houtan Kian, Mr. Soltani, and Ms. Sotoudeh have been targeted as a result of their legitimate work as human rights lawyers.

Mr. Houtan Kian is well-known for representing Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman convicted of adultery. He was arrested in October 2010. Reports state that in February 2012 he was sentenced to six years in prison.

Mr. Soltani is a prominent human rights lawyer and founder of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders. He was detained in September 2011. On March 4, 2012, his lawyers learned that he had been sentenced to 18 years in prison. He also faces a 20-year ban from practicing as a lawyer.

Ms. Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, is known for defending juveniles facing the death penalty, prisoners of conscience, and young victims of abuse. She was convicted in January 2011. She is currently serving a six-year prison sentence.

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, Shadi Sadr, Sara Sabaghian, Maryam Karbasi, Maryam Kianersi, and Nasser Zarafshan 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 Javid Houtan Kian, Abdolfatteh Soltani, Nasrin Sotoudeh, 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 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 4,000 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.

For more information, contact: Josée Bouchard, Equity Advisor, at 416-947-3984 or