Those on trial include members of the opposition reform movement, including a former vice-president and other senior politicians. Two Iranian workers for the British and French embassies in Tehran, a French academic and an Iranian-Canadian reporter were also among those on trial.

This is the latest in a series of moves which threatens to undermine Iran’s credibility for upholding international standards for the rule of law and fair trial procedures.

Reports indicate that lawyers representing the defendants have been denied access to their clients, to prosecution case documents and to knowledge of the dates of the trials. If these allegations are true, Iran is failing to meet their international obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights1 . In particular, defendants have a right to an adequate defence. This includes not only the right to be assisted by a lawyer, but also to have all the elements of evidence at one’s disposal, including access to case materials. This right constitutes one of the most fundamental elements of a fair trial. In the interests of justice, the accused is entitled to the minimum guarantees of legal representation.

The signatories to this statement ask the Iranian authorities to abide by their government’s commitment to the rule of law and fair trial procedures. Any trials that take place in Iran must ensure that defendants are guaranteed their fundamental rights. The signatories urge the Iranian authorities to put an end to these trials and release those who have been imprisoned arbitrarily without charge of a specific criminal offence.

1. Iran ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Policitical Rights on 24 June 1975.