March 8, 2019
The New York City Bar Association is deeply concerned by the Iranian government’s ongoing campaign of persecution targeting human rights lawyers and other rights defenders, which has intensified over the past year. Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is currently being held in the Evin Prison, is a prime example.
Iran’s preeminent human rights lawyer, Ms. Sotoudeh has a reputation for taking on politically sensitive cases that no one else will touch, advocating on behalf of clients and causes including Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, as well as journalists, activists, dissidents, intellectuals, members of the Baha’i community, victims of domestic violence, and juveniles on death row. At the time of her most recent arrest, Ms. Sotoudeh was representing the “the Girls of Revolution Street” – the young women who are being prosecuted for removing their headscarves in public to protest Iran’s compulsory hijab laws. In addition, she was organizing opposition to a new policy being implemented by the courts, which requires defendants charged with national security offenses to select their counsel from a very short list of state-approved lawyers; and she has been an outspoken critic of the judiciary’s actions in placing its own candidates on the board of the Iranian Bar Association.
Ms. Sotoudeh was taken into custody at her Tehran home on June 13, 2018, with no advance notice, and taken directly to prison. At the time, authorities told her that she was being imprisoned to serve a five-year sentence for espionage that had been imposed in 2016 – a charge as to which she was given no notice and was tried, convicted, and sentenced in absentia. Additional national security charges have been filed against her since then. All of the charges are based solely on Ms. Sotoudeh’s work as a lawyer representing her clients and her non-violent actions advocating for basic human rights. For example, in one case, the evidence that she constitutes a threat to national security consists of a handful of lapel buttons bearing slogans such as “I am against the forced veil.” In another case, the alleged offense is based on the decision of an international organization to confer on her a prestigious international human rights award, a remarkable charge given that the Iranian authorities prohibited her from receiving the award.
Le conseil de l’Ordre du Barreau du Havre confère à Me Sotoudeh, Avocate condamnée à 33 ans de prison et 148 coups de fouet pour avoir défendu les droits de l’homme, le statut de Membre d’Honneur du Barreau.
(Ordre des Avocats du Barreau du Havre Facebook, 05/04/19)