Iran: Visually impaired lawyer and academic Nasser Sargaran arrested in Saqquez
16 November 2023
Nasser Sargaran, a prominent human rights lawyer and academic, was arrested by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Intelligence Department in Saqqez.
On 11 October 2023, in Saqqez (Mahsa Jîna Amini’s home town), the authorities conducted a search of Mr Sargaran’s home without providing any legal documentation and arrested him. The lawyer was then taken to the ministry’s detention centre in the provincial capital, Sanandaj. He was not given access to a lawyer or details of the charges against him. He was only allowed a brief phone call with his family, during which he informed them of his arrest.
Sargaran, who is of Kurdish origin, has been visually impaired since a landmine exploded during the war between Iran and Iraq in 1993. As a committed lawyer, he has represented numerous protesters outraged by the murder of Mahsa Jîna Amini and has defended the rights of disabled people throughout his professional career. Nasser Sargaran is particularly involved with the Campaign for the Defence of Disability Rights in Iran, as pressure on disability rights activists in Iran has recently increased.
The Iranian regime has also raised concerns among other activists working for the Campaign for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Campaign’s National Director Behrouz Morovati and Leila Mirkhoshhal both received a summons from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence on the day of Me Sargaran’s arrest.
According to Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, “this is yet another example of the growing practice in the Islamic Republic of Iran of detaining and imprisoning people without due process, and then persecuting lawyers who try to access justice and fight against these gross violations of human rights“.
The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest of Nasser Sargaran.
The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to cease the harassment of human rights lawyers.
The Observatory calls for the immediate release of Mr Sargaran.
The Observatory recalls that, in accordance with the basic principles of the United Nations on the role of the Bar, in particular principles 16, 17, 18 and 23:
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 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.”