Celebrating Shirin Ebadi and the rule of law

Posted: 07/31/2012

Dr. Shirin Ebadi addresses the audience at the Law Society’s Rule of Law event on June 14. She is pictured here with her interpreter and long-time friend, Shirin Ershadi.

In a keynote address at the Law Society’s Rule of Law event, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi shared her experience defending human rights in Iran.

Dr. Ebadi’s account of a tireless quest for justice in an oppressive regime highlights the fragility of judiciaries and reinforces the important role an independent judiciary plays in supporting individual liberties.

At the June 14 forum, part of a series that aims to promote dialogue and increase human rights awareness, former Treasurer Laurie Pawlitza reflected on the Nobel laureate’s visit to the Law Society.

“Dr. Shirin Ebadi has been described as a woman of steel, unbending in her will to defend democracy and human rights and challenge the leadership in her home country,” Pawlitza said.

“The Law Society has a duty to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law and we were delighted to have a speaker whose passion for justice and the rule of law embodies the very principles that we promote.”

After reading Dr. Ebadi’s autobiography, Iran Awakening, Pawlitza had invited Dr. Ebadi to visit the Law Society and speak to members of Ontario’s legal community.

Pawlitza recounted parts of the book to a crowd of about 290, focusing on Dr. Ebadi learning that because of her work as a lawyer defending victims of violence perpetrated by the Iranian regime, she was to be the next person killed by the Iranian death squad.

The devastating revelation was one of many Dr. Ebadi had already faced as a defender of justice in Iran.

When Dr. Ebadi took to the stage at Osgoode Hall, she encouraged the crowd, which included guests from Iranian Legal Professionals of Ontario, to demand that those who have violated human rights be prohibited from entering Canada.

“Human rights is a global concept and no country has the right to violate it on the basis of cultural relativity,” she said.

“The government of Iran has consented to all the international human rights conventions and has the obligation to follow them.

“However, continuously and repeatedly it violates human rights.

“Make the world smaller for perpetrators of such crimes,” she said.

“Let’s make the world smaller for dictators, let’s bring them to justice and introduce them to the justice that awaits them.”