[JURIST] A group of UN human rights experts on Friday criticized the government of Iran [press release] for the detentions and harsh sentences of human rights defenders. The Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, the situation of human rights in Iran, and the independence of judges and lawyers urged the Iranian government to ensure that human rights defenders are allowed to carry out their legitimate activities and receive adequate protections. The highlighted the cases of several human rights activists who have been detained and sentenced to prison, including lawyers Abdolfattah Soltani and Nasrin Sotoudeh [JURIST reports]. Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul said:
I am really worried that human rights lawyers are being identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions. The Government has an obligation to ensure that lawyers can perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference and that they do not suffer prosecution for any action taken while carrying out their duties.The experts called for the immediate release of the human rights defenders.
Iran has faced ongoing criticism for its human rights record from the UN and other groups. In March UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed told the UN Human Rights Council that he is concerned about the human rights violations [JURIST report] occurring in the country. Corroborating Shaheed's concerns, Amnesty International released a report in February that Iran executed twice as many people [JURIST report] in 2011 as it did in the previous year. The report, entitled "'We Are Ordered to Crush You': Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran," chronicles widespread international human rights violations that Iran's government has allegedly perpetrated over the past year. The AI report claims that the most common targets of Iran's crackdown on human rights are lawyers, rights activists, filmmakers, journalists and political leaders.