GENEVA (9 December 2020) – UN human rights experts* today condemned the return to prison of woman human rights defender and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, and called for her immediate release.
“We are dismayed that the authorities willingly chose to again place Nasrin Sotoudeh at heightened risk by ordering her return to prison at this time, despite her COVID-19 positive test and contrary to the opinion of medical professionals,” the experts said.
“By ordering her return to prison, the authorities have taken an action that may have life-threatening consequences for her and further extended her arbitrary imprisonment, in violation of their obligations under international human rights law.”
On 2 December, the Prosecutor’s Office ordered Nasrin Sotoudeh to return to Qarchak prison the same day, after she had been temporarily released on 7 November. Following Sotoudeh’s positive test for COVID-19, her initial five-day temporary release was extended by two weeks. On 30 November, doctors recommended a resting period of an additional two weeks due to her COVID-19 infection.
“We repeat our call to the authorities to release Nasrin Sotoudeh as a matter of urgency and to allow her to receive the health care and rest she requires. We deeply regret that despite calls by the UN and the international community, Iranian authorities continue to criminalise Nasrin Sotoudeh for her work in defence of human rights.”
On 13 November, independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council
had welcomed Sotoudeh’s temporary release, and urged the authorities to quash her convictions and ensure her release while reviewing her case.
Ms. Sotouteh, an internationally recognised human rights lawyer, is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence after being convicted on seven charges in March 2019. Her convictions relate to the exercise of her profession as a lawyer, including defending women human rights defenders. UN experts have on numerous occasions raised serious concerns that her current detention is arbitrary and called for her release.
* The UN experts:
Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran;
Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executionsMr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the Rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;
Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Elizabeth Broderick (Chair), Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, Meskerem Geset Techane, Ivana RadačIć, Melissa Upreti (Vice Chair), Working Group on discrimination against women and girls;Irene Khan,
Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression;Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders,
The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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