Iranian Bar Associations: Struggle for Independence
(28 November 2012) -- Today, one of Iran's most celebrated human rights lawyers, Nasrin Sotoudeh, is in her 43th day of hunger strike in her Evin prison cell in protest to her arbitrary imprisonment.
In the span of her career, Sotoudeh has represented numerous opposition activists and other politically sensitive cases. For this, she came on the radar of the Iranian authorities, was arrested on charges of "spreading propaganda" and "conspiring to harm state security" and ultimately, in addition to a prison sentence of six years, has been banned from working as a lawyer for ten years. The persecution of Sotoudeh by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is a symptomatic extreme of a larger negative trend of the IRI's restrictions on the independent practice of law by defense attorneys. This legal commentary, written by Iranian lawyer Mohammad H. Nayyeri, examines developments in this regard in legislation and judicial action from the first days of the establishment of the Bar Associations in Iran until the present day. An informative read in these troubled times when not only Sotoudeh, but other prominent defense attorneys including Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Mohammad Seifzadeh, Abdolfattah Soltani, Nasser Zarafshan and Javid Houtan Kian find themselves imprisoned merely for trying to represent their clients on matters viewed as politically sensitive by the IRI.