Press release eg. abdulfatah soltani
Iran : Lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani
detained incommunicado since two months
Geneva-Paris, September 30, 2005. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), and the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) reiterate their deepest concern about the situation of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, lawyer at the Bar of Tehran and a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), who has been detained in solitary confinement since July 30, 2005, at the prison of Evin, Tehran.
Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani was arrested while he was taking part in a sit-in at the Bar of Tehran in order to protest against an arrest warrant issued against him by Mr. Saï¤ Mortazavi, Tehran Prosecutor, three days before, as well as against the search and seizure of his personal and professional belongings.
Mr. Soltani was accused of â€œespionageâ€, without any other precisions. Since the beginning of his detention, he has been denied the right to have access to a lawyer and to receive the visit of his family.
The Observatory and the LDDHI believe that his arrest is linked to the role played by Mr. Soltani in Ms. Zahra Kazemiâ€™s trial, an Iranian-Canadian photographer who died in July 2003 from torture and ill-treatment during her detention in Iranian custody, and brought before Tehran Court of Appeal to establish the circumstances of her death and the responsible parties. On July 25, 2005, during a hearing in camera of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Soltani, lawyer of Ms. Zahra Kazemiâ€™s family, put into question the independence and fairness of the trial, pointing out that the main officials allegedly involved in the case had not been indicted by the court, including Mr. Saï¤ŠMortazavi.
The Observatory and the LDDHI recall that in October 2003, the Article 90 Commission of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) released its report of enquiry into Mrs Kazemi's death, which concluded that Prosecutor Mortazavi and other members of the judiciary were directly involved in her death, as a result of violent interrogation in Evin prison.
The Observatory and the LDDHI are deeply concerned about Mr. Soltaniâ€™s arbitrary detention, which is part of a general repressive movement against human rights lawyers by Iranian authorities. In this regard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and __Expression, after his visit in Iran in November 2003, expressed concern regarding the fact that â€œlawyers do not benefit from immunity from prosecution with regard to what they say in court in defence of their clients or for statements they make on a caseâ€.
Moreover, in July 2002, Mr. Soltani had already been convicted for having underlined in his defence pleadings the fact that his clients had been subjected to ill-treatment during their interrogation. He was sentenced to four months in jail by the Court of Tehran and released in June 2003 (See Observatory Annual Report 2003).
The Observatory and the LDDHI consider that the detention of Mr. Soltani blatantly violates the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1 which stipulates that â€œeveryone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection an realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levelâ€, and article 9.3(c), which provides that everyone has the right â€œto offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedomsâ€.
Because detained in solitary confinement, the Observatory and the LDDHI fear that Mr. Soltani faces increased risks of being subject to ill-treatment and acts of torture.
The Observatory and the LDDHI therefore urge the Iranian authorities to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani.The Observatory and the LDDHI also urge them to conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and more generally, with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other regional and international human rights instruments to which Iran is a party .
For more information, please contact:
FIDH: 00 33 1 43 55 25 18
OMCT: 00 41 22 809 49 39
LDDHI : 00 33 1 40 94 14 50