Human Rights / Death Penalty Lawyer Arrested in Iran

June 30, 2009

In the midst of all of the political and social turmoil in Iran right now, activist and lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei was arrested this afternoon and taken away by plainclothes officers while out with his wife and daughter. The arrest was most likely related to his human rights activites connected with the recent protests, but he is most well-known for his work representing juveniles facing the death penalty.  The officials searched Mostafaei’s home and his office after arresting him and then took him away to an undisclosed location. His family has not been informed of his whereabouts.

Mohammad Mostafaei is a lawyer who, among other things, represents those on death row who were juveniles at the time of their crimes. He currently has 25 such cases. As a signitory of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has agreed not to execute anyone for a crime committed before the age of 18, but they have ignored this agreement many many times. By Amnesty International’s count, Iran has executed 18 child offenders since 2007.

Several juvenile offenders are currently at risk of execution in Iran, including Mohammad Reza Haddadi and Naser Qasemi, and Mehdi Mazroui.

It is important for the Iranian government to know that others are watching how they treat their citizens, particularly those who work in defense of human rights. And it is important for Iranian human rights defenders to have our support. Mostafaei is, in many cases, the only hope his clients have of being spared their life, but there is little that he can do from behind bars. Please urge Iranian leaders to release Mostafaei, and to permit others to speak out without fear of persecution.