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Iran: Arash Keykhosravi, lawyer and human rights defender, arrested and detained

12 January 2024


Arash Keykhosravi, an Iranian lawyer and fierce defender of human rights, has been facing prolonged detention since 25 September 2023. He was sentenced by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on charges of “propaganda activities against the State”. Known for his commitment to human rights and environmental protection, Keykhosravi has become a recurring target of repression by the Iranian authorities.

Keykhosravi’s legal troubles with the Iranian government are nothing new. In 2018, during a peaceful demonstration outside Parliament, he was arrested while representing the family of Kavous Seyed-Emami, an Iranian-Canadian academic and environmental activist who died in suspicious circumstances in Evin prison in February of the same year.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the lawyer attempted to file a complaint against several officials, including the Iranian Minister of Health and the Coronavirus Task Force, for their poor management of the health crisis. Following this, he was arbitrarily arrested in 2021, then released on bail after four months in Evin prison.

In 2022, the Tehran Court of Appeal increased Keykhosravi’s sentence to two years’ imprisonment. This sentence was accompanied by a ban on practising law and giving interviews to the press for one year.

The same year, Keykhosravi was again sentenced for his support for a statement proclaiming that “the majority of Iranians no longer want the Islamic Republic”, a claim widely disseminated during the demonstrations of the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement.


The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Mr Keykhosravi.

The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to cease the harassment of Mr Keykhosravi.

The Observatory recalls that, in accordance with the basic principles of the United Nations relating to the role of the Bar, in particular principles 16, 18, 23 and 27:

Principle 16: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference;”

Principle 18: Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”

Principle 23: Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.”

Principle 27: Charges or complaints made against lawyers in their professional capacity shall be processed expeditiously and fairly under appropriate procedures. Lawyers shall have the right to a fair hearing, including the right to be assisted by a lawyer of their choice.”