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Iran: Prisoners Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi need appropriate health care urgently – UN experts

  • Experts say two women arbitrarily detained, must be released 
  • The two inmates started a hunger strike after appropriate medical treatment was denied
  • Numerous reports of prisoners refused appropriate medical care in Iran 

GENEVA (16 January 2019) – UN human rights experts* have today called on Iran to urgently provide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi access to appropriate health care, and reiterated calls for their immediate release.

“We urge the Government to immediately and unconditionally provide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi with access to the appropriate treatment and care they have repeatedly requested in light of their serious health concerns,” the experts said.

Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual UK-Iranian national, has been denied appropriate health care by the Iranian authorities for lumps in her breasts, severe neck pain, and numbness in her arms and legs, her husband has said. She has also been denied appropriate mental health care from outside Evin Prison.

Ms. Mohammadi, an Iranian human rights defender, has been denied appropriate health care for over a year despite suffering from a pulmonary embolism, related blood clots, bleeding and repeated seizures, people with knowledge of her situation have said. She also requires follow-up treatment for a gall-bladder operation. 

The experts expressed alarm that the denial of appropriate health care has compelled Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ms. Mohammadi to start a hunger strike in protest. The experts deplored footage aired on national television of Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s arrest in a documentary soon after her announcement that she would begin a hunger strike.

“The authorities must urgently address the violations that are the basis of their hunger strike protest, including denial of appropriate treatment and care, which may well amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or even torture,” the experts said.

The experts also pointed to the findings of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and reiterated calls for the immediate release of Ms. Mohammadi and Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe. In separate opinions, the Working Group found that the two women had been arbitrarily detained.** Ms. Mohammadi and Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe have been detained since May 2015 and April 2016 respectively.

The experts stated that the situation of Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ms. Mohammadi is emblematic of numerous reports received related to the denial of appropriate treatment and care of imprisoned individuals in Iran, and urged the authorities to ensure appropriate treatment and care is afforded to all those in need of it.

The experts said that as a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Government has an obligation to respect the right of all persons, including prisoners, to have access to health services. Further, the universally accepted ‘Mandela Rules’ on treatment of prisoners specify that all prisons shall ensure prompt access to appropriate medical attention. The experts further recalled that as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Government has an obligation to protect the right to life.

The UN experts have previously notified the Government of Iran about their concerns.

ENDS

(*) The UN experts: Mr. Dainius Pῡras,Special Rapporteur on the right to health; Mr. Diego García-SayánSpecial Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, Chair-Rapporteur, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Special Rapporteurs 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 Councils 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.

** On 21 September 2016, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arbitrary and called for her release (see A/HRC/WGAD/2016/28). Similarly, on 22 September 2017, the Working Group also found that the detention of Narges Mohammadi was arbitrary and called for her release (see A/HRC/WGAD/2017/48).

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Iran  

For more information and media requests, please contact Gurdip Sangha (+41 22 92 89 235 / sr-iran@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)
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