UN Human Rights Experts Call Release of Iranian Human Rights Defender a Hopeful Sign
Independent human rights experts* today welcomed the release of long-imprisoned Iranian woman human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, after an Iranian court made use of a new law to reduce her sentence.
“We are encouraged that the decision of the Iranian judiciary has led to Ms. Mohammadi’s release after so many years in prison,” they said. “We hope that others who are currently detained arbitrarily – human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, conservationists, prisoners of conscience and dual and foreign nationals – will also be freed.”
Mohammadi, released on 8 October, has been imprisoned for her human rights work many times. Her latest imprisonment dates back to 2015. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in 2017 that her detention was arbitrary and called for her immediate release. Other experts also raised concerns with the Iranian authorities about her detention, including her access to medical treatment. Most recently, in July 2020, the experts demanded medical treatment for Ms. Mohammadi after she showed symptoms of COVID-19.
Calling her release “a step in the right direction,” the experts today said they remain concerned that a previous conviction related to Ms. Mohammadi’s human rights work may still be active, and also expressed concern at the new charges that were laid against her in February 2020 connected to her peaceful activism inside prison.
“All the charges against Ms. Mohammadi reportedly relate to her exercise of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” the experts said. “We urge the Iranian judiciary to ensure the right to be tried before an independent and impartial tribunal, to expeditiously review any additional cases against Ms. Mohammadi, and to quash and annul existing convictions so as to allow her to freely continue her important work defending human rights without the fear of State harassment or arbitrary detention.”
They said there are many other individuals who remain behind bars in the Islamic Republic of Iran simply for exercising their human rights.
“We urge the Iranian authorities to also urgently review their cases, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its presence in Iran’s prisons, and to immediately release all individuals who are being arbitrarily detained in violation of international human rights law.”
* The UN experts: Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez, Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, Mr. Sètondji Adjovi, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Elizabeth Broderick (Chair), Melissa Upreti (Vice Chair), Alda Facio, Meskerem Geset Techane, Ivana Radačić, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association; Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.