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HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERTS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER REPORTED DENIAL OF MEDICAL CARE TO IMPRISONED IRANIAN JOURNALIST


15 July 2005


The following statement was issued jointly today by the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt; the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Ambeyi Ligabo; the Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak; the Special Representative of the Secretary General on human rights defenders, Hina Jilani, and the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Leila Zerrougui:

The Special Procedures mandate-holders express their profound concern at the alleged continued refusal by the authorities of Evin Prison to provide the imprisoned journalist Akbar Ganji with appropriate medical attention for his severe asthma.

On 11 June 2005, Akbar Ganji, who had been on medical leave since 30 May 2005, was rearrested and immediately placed in solitary confinement in Evin Prison on the order of Teheran’s Chief Prosecutor. Despite statements from the Deputy Head of Teheran’s Justice Department on 30 May 2005, and the Judiciary spokesperson on 7 June 2005, concerning the extension of his medical leave, he was returned to the prison without receiving the medical treatment for chronic asthma recommended by a specialist. The medical centre at Evin prison is reportedly not equipped to treat these conditions. Meanwhile, Mr. Ganji’s health has further deteriorated: he has lost over 20 kilos since 11 June 2005, when he started a hunger strike to protest the denial by prison authorities of adequate medical care.

Akbar Ganji was originally arrested in 2000 after returning from a conference in Berlin on human rights in Iran at which he reportedly expressed views critical of the Iranian authorities and the Supreme Leader. He was charged with “harming national security” and “spreading propaganda against the regime”, and sentenced to six years of imprisonment, in violation of international human rights norms and standards concerning the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The Special Procedures mandate-holders urge the Iranian authorities to take all necessary measures to provide Mr. Ganji with adequate conditions of detention, including the necessary medical attention as required by his condition. They also appeal to the Government to guarantee Mr. Ganji’s rights not to be arbitrarily deprived of his liberty and to fair proceedings before an independent and impartial tribunal.