In London, jurists speak out

May 9, 2013

 A group of 18 prominent British lawyers have published a letter today in the Telegraph newspaper decrying the legal process by which the seven imprisoned Iranian Baha’i leaders were tried and sentenced, and calling for their immediate release.

130508 Telegraph letter-crop

The Telegraph
8 May 2013

“The seven Baha’is were purportedly ‘tried’ in 2010 in proceedings that can be barely described as a ‘trial,’ and were each sentenced to 20 years in prison,” wrote the jurists, whose letter was published on the letters-to-the-editor page of the prominent UK newspaper.

“Lawyers brave enough to represent Baha’is – including the Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi – have themselves become victims of the Iranian regime and been forced into exile. Others, such as Nasrin Sotoudeh and Abdolfattah Soltani, are now serving prison sentences on similarly spurious allegations.

“Iranian authorities often claim to be champions of justice, equality and fairness. It is time for them to honour these principles, release the seven Baha’i leaders and restore the rule of law in Iran.”

Those signing the letter include:

  • Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, a leading barrister in public and administrative law who campaigned for thirty years to make the European Human Rights Convention directly enforceable in British courts.
  • Sir Desmond de Silva QC, a leading international criminal lawyer, who, as Chief Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, help see to the arrest of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, who was convicted of war crimes at The Hague in 2011.
  • Michael Mansfield QC, one of the UK’s most recognizable human rights lawyers, who has represented claimants in some of the most high profile cases ever tried before British and international courts, and is currently a judge for the Iran Tribunal.
  • Geoffrey Robertson QC, who has been counsel in many landmark cases in constitutional, criminal and media law cases. He makes frequent appearances European Court of Human Rights and in 2008 the UN Secretary General appointed him as one of the three distinguished jurist members of the UN’s Internal Justice Council.

The full text of the letter – including the list of signatories – can be read at this link to the letters pages of the Telegraph. It is the seventh letter on the page.


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