Legal questions over Iran Bahá'í trial
The Guardian, Saturday 9 October 2010
On 8 August it was reported that seven Iranian citizens – Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Vahid Tizfahm and Mahvash Sabet – had been sentenced to 20 years in prison. These sentences have since been reduced to 10 years. The seven previously constituted the informal leadership of theBahá’í faith in Iran and their case has attracted international attention. We write to express our serious concerns about questions of due process that have arisen since their arrest in 2008 and throughout their detention, trial and sentencing.
We understand that the seven were detained without a writ being addressed to them. They were then held in solitary confinement for between 105 and 175 days. These prolonged detentions, prior to any trial, are unacceptable by any standard of due process. At the trial the charges included “spreading corruption on earth”, “propaganda against the Islamic order”, and “espionage, co-operation with Israel”. We understand no evidence was produced to support these charges, and that no written verdicts have been delivered. The seven are reported to have had one hour of time with their legal representatives. The charges and the sentences appear to be motivated solely by the fact that they are members of the Bahá’í faith. We urge the authorities to respect Iran’s obligations under international law and, moreover, that Iran conducts the subsequent appeal of the seven in accordance with these obligations as well as its own laws.
Rosalyn Higgins QC Former international judge
Linda Lee President, Law Society
Mark Muller QC Chairman, Bar human rights committee