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Iran: Nasrin Sotoudeh Must Be Released, Say UN Experts

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.

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