Public Statement - The Law Society of Upper Canada Expresses Grave Concerns about the Ongoing Detention and Lack of Medical Treatment for Farshid Yadollahi and Iranian Human Rights Lawyers

TORONTO, May 6, 2014 /CNW/ - The Law Society of Upper Canada is gravely concerned about the ongoing detention and lack of medical attention for Farshid Yadollahi and imprisoned human rights lawyers in Iran.

Farshid Yadollahi is a human rights lawyer who is well known for representing religious minorities in Iran. In late 2011, he was arrested for "propagating lies and creating public anxiety" after successfully representing Dervish clients, who are Sufi Muslims and choose to live in poverty. Farshid Yadollahi, along with four other lawyers, and over 60 Sufis, were arrested en mass. His arrest followed the filing of a complaint against Iranian intelligence services for unlawful behaviour, which was a legitimate exercise of his duties as a lawyer. His arrest is seen as part of an ongoing campaign by Iranian authorities to harass lawyers representing religious minorities such as Gonabadi Dervishes.

Until recently, Farshid Yadollahi was serving his sentence in the Evin Prison. It is reported that he has been illegally transferred from Evin Prison to Rajai-Shahr Prison, west of Tehran. The illegal transfer of Farshid Yadollahi and the lack of medical treatment for imprisoned human rights lawyers, like him, along with other prisoners of conscience prompted a protest in early March.

There is growing concern over the lack of medical treatment for human rights lawyers imprisoned in Iran's Evin and Rajai-Shahr prisons. Prisoners are not receiving proper medical treatment and the prisons lack the facilities required for sick prisoners. Imprisoned lawyers seeking medical treatment are also being judicially blocked from receiving treatment by Justice Salavati. They are not receiving medical treatment for issues such as heart conditions, breathing problems, dental issues and kidney and spinal conditions.

Imprisoned lawyers who attempt to access proper medical care are further harassed by authorities. Many of these lawyers' medical problems have been brought about by ill treatment and the lack of access to proper medical care in prison. If imprisoned lawyers who are connected to the Dervish community are allowed to access medical treatment, then they are expected to remain shackled and in their prisoner uniforms.

The Law Society is deeply concerned about situations where lawyers who work for the protection and respect of human rights are themselves targeted for exercising their freedoms and rights under international law. International human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that respect for human rights is essential to advancing the rule of law. Article 16 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states "governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely; and shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics". Article 18 states "lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions".

The Law Society urges the government of Iran to:

a.      guarantee all the procedural rights that should be accorded to Farshid Yadollahi and other human rights defenders in Iran;
b.      guarantee in all circumstances proper medical care and the physical and psychological integrity of Farshid Yadollahi and other human rights defenders;
c.      put an end to all acts of harassment against Farshid Yadollahi and other human rights defenders in Iran;
d.      ensure that all Iranian lawyers can carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of physical violence or other human rights violations; and
e.      ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for 46,200 lawyers and 6,200 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 their effort to advance the respect of human rights and to promote the rule of law.

SOURCE: The Law Society of Upper Canada

For further information:

please contact Lisa Hall at 416-947-7625 or lhall@lsuc.on.ca.

The Law Society of Upper Canada
Osgoode Hall
130 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON  M5H 2N6


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