LONDON, 11 Oct – Dame Rosalyn Higgins QC, former President of the International Court of Justice, has joined Linda Lee, President of the Law Society, and Mark Muller QC, Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, in urging the Iranian authorities to ensure that the appeal by the seven imprisoned leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran against their 10-year prison sentence is conducted fairly.
A letter signed by the three prominent lawyers, published in The Guardian on 9 October, expresses their serious concern about the lack of due process accorded to the seven during their trial and urges that the Baha’i leaders’ appeal be conducted in accordance with Iran’s international legal obligations and with Iran’s own laws.
Dame Rosalyn, Ms Lee and Mr Muller write:
“On 8 August it was reported that seven Iranian citizens – Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Vahid Tizfahm and Mahvash Sabet – had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. These sentences have since been reduced to 10 years. The seven previously constituted the informal leadership of theBahá’í faith in Iran and their case has attracted international attention. We write to express our serious concerns about questions of due process that have arisen since their arrest in 2008 and throughout their detention, trial and sentencing.
“We understand that the seven were detained without a writ being addressed to them. They were then held in solitary confinement for between 105 and 175 days. These prolonged detentions, prior to any trial, are unacceptable by any standard of due process. At the trial the charges included “spreading corruption on earth”, “propaganda against the Islamic order”, and “espionage, co-operation with Israel”. We understand no evidence was produced to support these charges, and that no written verdicts have been delivered. The seven are reported to have had one hour of time with their legal representatives. The charges and the sentences appear to be motivated solely by the fact that they are members of the Bahá’í faith. We urge the authorities to respect Iran’s obligations under international law and, moreover, that Iran conducts the subsequent appeal of the seven in accordance with these obligations as well as its own laws.”
Dr Kishan Manocha, Director of the UK Baha’i community’s Office of External Affairs, expressed the gratitude of the community for this clear call for justice.
“This highlights the shocking failure of the Iranian authorities to provide due process and reinforces the call for a fair appeal, which we very much hope will exonerate these seven innocent people,” Dr Manocha said.
“We are delighted with the support from these eminent lawyers, including the former President of the International Court of Justice.”
The seven – Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm – were all members of a national-level group that, with the Iranian government’s knowledge, helped see to the minimum spiritual needs of Iran’s 300,000-strong Baha’i community.
Further information about the trial of the seven can be found here.
[tags]Baha’i, Bahai, Iran, persecution, human rights, justice, due process, Dame Rosalyn Higgins[/tags]