22 August 2023
Maryam Arvin, an Iranian lawyer and fervent defender of the rights of women who were victims of discrimination, died two months after her release from prison. She had been pursuing a doctorate in law since the age of 28, after obtaining her bachelor’s degree three years earlier.
Her death was announced by the Kerman Lawyers’ Association on 7 February 2023, although she had been released on bail on 13 December 2022, along with her mother Tayyebeh Nazari. The causes were not specified by the Association. However, on 10 February 2023, the day of her burial, the office of the public and revolutionary prosecutor in Sirdjan declared that the victim had committed suicide.
After the demonstrations that took place in Iran in September 2022, Maryam Arvin showed her support to the families of the demonstrators detained in the town of Sirjan, where she was a university professor and ran her practice.
The Intelligence Police Department began targeting Maryam Arvin after an altercation with the judge of the Revolutionary Court, when she defended a 15-year-old orphan. As a result, Ms Arvin was accused of inciting and participating in demonstrations, without any supporting evidence.
Abused, insulted and handcuffed when she went to the Sirjan courthouse on 26 November 2022, accompanied by her mother, they were both arrested and released shortly afterwards.
Following the death of her daughter, Tayyebeh Nazari revealed on social media that the cause of her daughter’s death was caused by drug injections in prison, as well as injuries caused by ill-treatment in court and during her imprisonment. Officers Hamid Zeydabadi and Mobina also allegedly mistreated Ms Arvin in court, handcuffing her, forcibly removing her headscarf and dragging her along the floor.
The Observatory deeply regrets the untimely death of a colleague devoted to the cause of human rights and expresses its solidarity with the victim’s family.
The Observatory is seriously concerned about the worrying trend of deaths of detainees after their release from prison.
The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to conduct an independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the circumstances of the death of lawyer Maryam Arvin.
The Observatory calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the United Nations Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in particular principles 16, 17, 20, 27 and 28:
Principle 16: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”
Principle 17: “Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”
Principle 20: “Lawyers shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court, tribunal or other legal or administrative authority.”
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.”
Principle 28: “Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers shall be brought before an impartial disciplinary committee established by the legal profession, before an independent statutory authority, or before a court, and shall be subject to an independent judicial review.”