International Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Human rights violations in Iran: the role of lawyers - Wednesday 24 January 2024
Wednesday 24 January marks the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer. The purpose of the Day is to call attention to threatened human rights lawyers in a single designated country. For 2024 the focus is on Iran.
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), the Geneva Bar Association (Ordre des Avocats de Genève), the International Observatory of Lawyers (OIAD) and The Law Society of England and Wales (LSEW) invite you to join, either in-person or virtually, the discussion Human rights violations in Iran: the role of lawyers.
In September 2022, the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, arrested for alleged non-observance of Iran’s law on mandatory veiling triggered nationwide anti-government protests in the country. Challenging the actions of the morality police as well as broader limitations on people’s freedom, dignity and fundamental human rights, it has been widely reported that demonstrators have been subjected to the disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, extra-judicial executions, sexual and gender-based violence, torture and enforced disappearances by the regime.
Lawyers, as guardians of the rule of law, play a vital role in upholding rights such as freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and access to justice by holding violators accountable and seeking remedies for those whose rights are violated during peaceful assemblies. However, data indicates that lawyers defending protesters in Iran face threats, harassment and arbitrary arrests. This fear of reprisals makes it challenging for lawyers to ensure adequate defence for their clients, the majority of whom are arbitrarily detained, limiting defendants' ability to receive a fair trial. This exposes their clients to death sentences based on unfounded proceedings.
According to the latest data provided by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), 23,557 protesters have been arrested and 639 people have been killed by security forces, including 80 minors, since the protests began in September 2022. Some individuals have been executed. The Revolutionary Courts of first instance have issued almost 100 protest-related death sentences.
Despite the United Nations issuing numerous calls for Iran to halt its severe human rights violations against protesters, and conduct thorough investigations and prosecutions for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, little action has been taken to address these systemic issues.
This discussion will bring together UN experts, legal professionals, Iranian and international human rights organisations to address ongoing human rights abuses in Iran and how to progress towards accountability for violations.