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Iran: Kurdish lawyer Golaheh Vatandoust sentenced to over six years in prison by the Islamic Republic of Iran

31 January 2024

 The Branch One of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj has sentenced lawyer Golaheh Vatandoust to six years, seven months and twenty days in prison for aiming to establish an association called Zivana, which was meant to focus on women’s rights. The association was deemed an illegal organisation. Additionally, she was charged with “propaganda against the regime”, “action against national security” and “membership of opposition groups”. Currently her case is under review at the Court of Appeal of Kurdistan (Sanandaj) Province.

Golaheh Vatandoust is a prominent human rights lawyer and renowned women’s rights advocate. She was arrested on October 3, 2022, during the Jin, Jiyan, Azadi movement by security agencies in Sanandaj city, released on bail set at one billion toman (20.000 dollars approximately), after spending 26 days in custody[1].

Lawyers in Iran continue to face systemic persecution for defending human rights. Lawyers who defend human rights have always been targeted, and many have been sentenced to long prison terms or have left the country to escape prosecution. Between September 2022 and May 2023, at least 66 defence lawyers were arrested by the Iranian security forces to prevent them from seeking justice for activists and demonstrators who had been arbitrarily arrested[2]. Lawyer Golaleh Vatandoust is one of the many examples of Iranian lawyers, who has been subject to state prosecution for advocating for human rights and justice.

The Observatory strongly condemns the repeated condemnations of human rights lawyers in Iran for the exercise of their profession.

The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to put an end to the harassment of Golaheh Vatandoust.

The Observatory demands that the Islamic Republic of Iran immediately drop all charges against Golaheh Vatandoust.

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

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

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

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.”(Principle 23)

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.” (Principle 27)




[1] Human Rights Activists News Agency : “Legal Advocate Golaleh Vatandoost Receives over Six-Year Prison Sentence”, January 19, 2024. Available online

[2] OIAD’s Brochure: “International Day for Lawyers in Danger : IRAN”, December 14, 2023. Available online