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Four Iranian Human Rights Lawyers Awarded EU Human Rights Prize

Mohammad Najafi, (left to right) Amir Salar Davudi, Abdolfatah Soltani, and Nasrin Sotoudeh

The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) has granted its 2019 Human Rights Award to four Iranian lawyers currently in prison, including prominent rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Sotoudeh was the co-winner of the European Parliament's 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought who was earlier this year sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes over her defense of political prisoners, including women protesting the compulsory hijab law.

Abdolfatah Soltani, a well-respected lawyer and the co-founder of the Center for Human Rights Defenders who has been in prison since 2011, Mohammad Najafi, who has been convicted of security crimes over his defense of political prisoners, and Amir Salar Davudi, who's been sentenced to 30 years in prison and 111 lashes for defending political prisoners and religious and ethnic minorities, were also granted the CCBE Human Rights Award.

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi received the CCBE award on behalf of Sotoudeh, Soltani, Najafi, and Davudi in a ceremony in Brussels on November 29.

"Unfortunately, none of these lawyers can leave Iran because they’re in prison, except for Soltani who is currently on prison leave. Therefore, I attended the ceremony and [received] the award on their behalf and I thanked [CCBE members] for remembering their Iranian colleagues," Ebadi told RFE/RL's Radio Farda in a telephone interview on November 29.

She added that practicing law had become a "dangerous" profession in Iran.

The CCBE represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.

Iran has in recent years intensified its pressure on human rights lawyers by sentencing them to long prison terms for their human rights activism and defense of political prisoners.

"Lawyers should be the cornerstone of protecting the rights of the accused, but in Iran, they are just another enemy of repressive authorities," Human Rights Watch said last year while condemning the crackdown on lawyers.

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