RESOLUTION REGARDING IRANIAN LAWYERS ABDOLFATTAH SOLTANI AND NASSER ZARAFSHAN

WHEREAS, Abdolfattah Soltani is an Iranian lawyer who was arrested in July 2005 inside the offices of the Lawyers Association in Tehran and was held until March 7, 2006, without being brought before a judge and without being charged formally, subject to a bail requirement that was unprecedented, and denied access to his counsel for more than five months; and

WHEREAS, even after release on bail, Mr. Soltani faces the risk of prosecution even though no formal charge has been pronounced against him since his arrest; and

WHEREAS, credible, non-political observers, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, state that the arrest of Abdolfattah Soltani appears to be a politically motivated response by the government to Mr. Soltani's role in one or more cases where the actions of the Iranian government have been challenged forcefully, including the Zahra Kazemi case, in which Mr. Soltani is representing the family of a person seeking information and recompense arising from that person's death while in custody of Iranian officials; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Soltani's arrest came within a week of threats having been made against him and his colleague, Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, who is co-counsel with Mr. Soltani in the Kazemi case, from Iranian judicial officials; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Soltani is co-founder, with Dr. Ebadi, of the Center for Defense of Human Rights in Tehran, which seeks to uphold human rights and legal rights of Iranian citizens through application of law and the rule of law; and

WHEREAS, Iranian judicial officials arrested another Iranian lawyer, Nasser Zarafshan, in 2002 and convicted him in a trial that was not open to the public, sentencing him to five years in prison after Mr. Zarafshan represented the families of dissidents who died under circumstances leading to suspicion that they were killed by or upon the order of intelligence ministry agents; and

WHEREAS, throughout the world, and in Philadelphia, it has long been the role of lawyers to question the conduct of government, and to uphold the rights of others to do so, and to obtain recompense for wrongs done by government, by petitioning courts in the respective jurisdictions where those lawyers practice and to assert, pursuant to due process provided by law, the rights of citizens and others in their respective jurisdictions; and

WHEREAS, in order for the rule of law, ordered liberty and human rights to flourish, lawyers must be able to assert the rights of those whom they represent and they must be able to do so without fear of unjustified reprisal; and

WHEREAS, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders calls upon governments to take necessary measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders against any violence, retaliation, de jure adverse discrimination, or certain other actions; and

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association respects the role of lawyers in Philadelphia and elsewhere as defenders of human rights.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED as follows:

1. The Philadelphia Bar Association joins with other responsible observers of matters related to human rights in observing that Abdolfattah Soltani was detained without formal charge or trial from July 30, 2005 until March 7, 2006, and remains free on bail but subject to prosecution even though no formal charge has been pronounced against him, and that Nasser Zarafshan has been convicted in a trial that was not open to the public, both in retaliation for their activities as lawyers active in the defense or vindication of human rights and the rule of law; and
2. The Philadelphia Bar Association joins with other responsible observers of matters related to human rights in its concern that Abdolfattah Soltani did not have access to his counsel for five months of his detention and that he has not been given full and regular access to his counsel; and
3. The Philadelphia Bar Association calls on authorities responsible for the prosecution of Mr. Soltani's case to at least bring formal charges against him and bring him to trial promptly and publicly in accordance with fundamental rights to a fair trial, which include the right to counsel, the right to call witnesses and examine witnesses against him, and to have access to evidence against him; and
4. The Philadelphia Bar Association calls on Iranian authorities to nullify or reverse the conviction of Nasser Zarafshan and to release him speedily and unconditionally; and
5. The Philadelphia Bar Association urges the national authorities in Iran to develop plans of action that will implement the fundamental tenets of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, including plans to take steps that will prevent and avoid retaliation, threat or discrimination against attorneys in response to their actions upholding human rights and the legal rights of individuals whom those attorneys represent; and
6. The Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association is authorized to communicate the aforesaid to the responsible leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the responsible leaders of the Judiciary of Iran, representatives of the diplomatic interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United States and at the United Nations, and to Mr. Zarafshan and Mr. Soltani and their families.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: MARCH 30, 2006