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IRAN: The Observatory condemns the sentencing of Iranian lawyer Farzaneh Zilabi to 18 months in prison and calls for all other charges against her to be dropped.

6 june 2023 

Farzaneh Zilabi is a lawyer and human rights activist in Iran. She has taken up the cause of the Haft-Tappeh Agro-Industrial Sugar Cane Workers’ Union in their wage demands, and defended political activists from Khouzestan as well as journalists Mehrnoosh Tafian and Mandanda Sadeghi and student activist Ronak Rezaie.  

On 22 May 2023, the 4th branch of the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court sentenced Farzaneh Zilabi to one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime” and six months for “insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran”. 

There is every reason to believe that this sentence is nothing more than a judicial reprisal against her work as a lawyer defending workers’ rights and human rights more generally in Iran. 

The lawyer has announced her intention to appeal this decision.

In another case for which she was prosecuted for “contempt of the leadership”, “membership of anti-regime groups”, “conspiracy and collusion to act against national security”, “propaganda activities against the regime” and “dissemination of false information”, on 14 February 2023 she was deprived of her right to a lawyer, and temporarily released on bail at the end of the hearing.  

The Observatory strongly condemns the sentencing of lawyer Farzaneh Zilabi on 22 May 2023 and the multiple accusations against her.  

The Observatory expresses its total solidarity with lawyer Farzaneh Zilabi. 

The Observatory recalls that in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in particular principles 16, 18 and 23: 

“Public authorities shall ensure that lawyers (a) can perform all their professional functions without hindrance, intimidation, harassment or undue interference;(…)” (Principle 16) ; 

“Lawyers shall not be assimilated to their clients or to the cause of their clients by reason of the exercise of their functions” (Principle 18); 

 “Lawyers, like all other citizens, shall enjoy freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. (…)” (Principle 23).