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Iranian Lawyer Rejects Official's Portrayal Of Human Rights

Iranian lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani
A prominent Iranian lawyer has rejected the optimistic portrayal of Iran's human rights situation offered to the United Nations earlier this week, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Last week, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary-general of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that "Iran is a country with an open democracy where justice and freedom of speech are guaranteed."

Iranian-based lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani told Radio Farda that he rejects Larijani's characterization of the situation in Iran, especially in regards to its prisons. He said torture is extensively used in prisons, even when detainees are not being interrogated.

Soltani said four detainees have died while being tortured at Tehran's Kahrizak prison.

He added that lawyers are not allowed to be present when their clients are interrogated, despite constitutional guarantees of such access. "Especially after the [December] Ashura Day rally, [defense] lawyers were not even able to meet the prosecutor to announce their representation," he said.

Soltani said that since lawyers are not allowed access to their clients, it is impossible to determine whether a prisoner has been tortured. He said "If Mr. Larijani says that torture does not exist in the prisons, why don't they allow lawyers to be present during the investigative process?"

Soltani also expressed regret that Iran has rejected UN calls to release all political prisoners and accept an international inquiry into the violence that followed June's presidential election.

He said the solution for the country is for the government to abide by the constitution, though he admitted that it is also imperfect.

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