Lawyer Protests Unjust Sentence by Refusing Sham Appeal Process, Demands Judicial Review
Imprisoned attorney Amirsalar Davoudi, the latest human rights attorney to be sentenced to a lengthy prison term in Iran for doing his job, is demanding a judicial review after refusing to appeal his sentence on trumped-up charges.
In June 2019, a preliminary court convicted the human rights lawyer of “collaborating with an enemy state through interviews,” “propaganda against the state,” “insulting officials,” and “forming a group to overthrow the state” and sentenced him to 30 years in prison, 15 years of which he must serve according to Article 134 of the country’s Islamic Penal Code.
Davoudi did not seek an appeal within the 20-day time limit after he was sentenced to protest the unjust legal system that put him behind bars for defending political, human, and civil rights as an attorney.
“Mr. Davoudi has totally rejected the sentence and says that he has not done anything that would require an appeal,” a source with knowledge about his case told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on November 5, 2019.
The source continued: “The state does not like lawyers to be independent and puts pressure on those who defend political cases for free, or for a very low fee to cover the cost of the judicial tax.”
“They want lawyers to charge a lot so that the political prisoners won’t be able to afford legal counsel,” he added. “In effect, they want to put lawyers in a bind.”
Prominent imprisoned defense attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, whose imprisonment earlier this year was widely condemned by international lawyers and human rights organizations, also stated in March 2019 that she would not appeal her own lengthy prison sentence to protest Iran’s justice system.
Davoudi, 28, who has represented several detainees held on politically-motivated charges during his career, was arrested by agents of the judiciary’s security and intelligence center on November 20, 2018, for running “Without Retouch,” a Telegram app channel for lawyers in Iran, and for giving interviews to foreign news organizations.
“Everything that Mr. Davoudi posted on his Instagram and Telegram channel was used as evidence to convict him,” the source told CHRI. “More than 90 percent of the posts in ‘Without Retouch’ were about trade union issues related to what’s going on in society. None of it had anything to do with attempts to organize and overthrow the state. Such accusations have no basis in truth. They said he had colluded with the 2,000 people who were members of his channel!”
The source added that Davoudi has the right to be released on bail until the outcome of the judicial review.
“There are no proper legal procedures for political prisoners. They’re arbitrary,” said the source. “We just hope that he is treated according to the law… and released until the completion of the judicial review.”
In June 2019, Davoudi became the third known defense attorney to be sent to prison in Iran for his peaceful activities in less than a year.
The sentencing of three defense attorneys in 2019 represents a spike in the trend of lawyers being jailed for defending and advocating human rights Iran.
In addition to Davoudi and Sotoudeh, Mohammad Najafi is currently serving a three-year prison sentence and facing a total of 19 years behind bars.
The three are among at least eight lawyers who have been arrested in the Islamic Republic since September 2018 after peacefully defending political prisoners or speaking out about politically sensitive cases and issues.
The arrests took place against a backdrop of an ongoing crackdown on due process rights.
Since late 2017, detainees held on national security-related charges in Iran—including journalists, activists, and defense lawyers—have been told to choose their counsel from a list approved by Iran’s chief justice.
Read this article in Persian.