World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Iran: Jailed For Defending Women Who Opposed Compulsory Veiling, Nasrin Sotoudeh Must Be Freed, Say UN Experts

GENEVA (21 June 2021) – UN human rights experts* today condemned the continued imprisonment of woman human rights defender and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, and called for her immediate release.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh has been systematically criminalised for her work in defence of human rights, particularly the rights of women who oppose compulsory veiling laws,” Dubravka Simonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, said.

Ms. Sotoudeh has been detained since June 2018, and was sentenced to a combined 38 years imprisonment on nine charges, including “encouraging corruption and prostitution”, in connection to her work defending women arrested for peacefully protesting compulsory veiling laws. Under Iranian law, she will need to serve 12 years in prison, the longest of her sentences.

“No one should be coerced to wear religious symbols that they consider not essential or even contrary to their religions or beliefs,” said the experts. “A woman’s or girl’s choice in manifesting or expressing her identity, including her religion or belief, is protected under freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression as provided by international human rights law.

“Despite our many calls over the years to release Ms. Sotoudeh, Iranian authorities have failed to do so, and instead they have transferred her to another prison, farther away from her family and under dire conditions,” the experts said.

Since October 2020, Ms. Sotoudeh has been detained in Qarchak prison, which is overcrowded and with serious sanitary and structural issues, connected to the fact that it was not originally built to be a detention facility. There is a recurrent lack of access to health care for inmates, and there is insufficient and/or non-nutritional food which also leads to health issues. Ms. Sotoudeh’s health has seriously deteriorated since her arrest and she was also tested positive for COVID-19 during her imprisonment. Despite Ms. Sotoudeh’s engagement with prison administrators to close the jail, no measures have been taken in response to her requests.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh’s case is sadly not isolated, and the severe sentences she has received appear to be intended to silence her work and to intimidate other human rights defenders, including her family,” the experts said.

Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, has also been targeted for challenging compulsory veiling laws. He has been sentenced to six years imprisonment in a ruling that can be enforced at any time.

“We repeat our call to the authorities to release Nasrin Sotoudeh as a matter of urgency, review her case and quash her convictions, as well as her husband’s,” the experts said. “Iran must put an end to the criminalisation of Nasrin Sotoudeh for her legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.”

Ms. Sotoudeh, an internationally recognised human rights lawyer, had been arrested in connection with her work as a lawyer, from September 2010 to September 2013. Since her most recent arrest, UN experts have on numerous occasions raised with the authorities their serious concerns that her detention is arbitrary and called for her release. The Government responded to some of the interventions by the experts, but not all.


* The UN experts: Ms. Dubravka Simonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Mr. Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Ms.Elizabeth Broderick (Chair), Ms.Melissa Upreti (Vice Chair), Ms.Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, Ms.Ivana Radačić, and Ms.Meskerem Geset Techane; Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. Diego Garcia-Sayan, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers,. Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Afghanistan: Record Number Of Women And Children Killed Or Wounded

More women and children were killed and wounded in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 than in the first six months of any year since records began in 2009, a United Nations report revealed on Monday... More>>

Tale Of Two Pandemics: Follow The Science And Do Not Forget One At The Cost Of The Other

Covid-19 has posed innumerable health, economic, and social challenges for all, including people living with HIV. It has exposed the fragility of health systems around the globe and has diverted political attention and funding from other infectious diseases like TB and HIV... More>>

UN: Rights Chief Calls For Prompt Release Of Protestors Held In Cuba
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called for the prompt release of protestors and journalists detained during anti-government demonstrations in Cuba, some of whom are being held incommunicado... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Food Systems: Italian & Rwandan Leaders Join Urgent Call To Transform World’s Food Systems As Pre-Summit Begins

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame stress need for more inclusive, sustainable and holistic approaches ahead of the Summit in New York in September... More>>

Shaping The Future Of Food Systems: Thousands Commit To Dialogues Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic

More than 130 governments are making food systems a top priority amid the pandemic and committing to an unprecedented programme of Dialogues in the run up to the UN Food Systems Summit in September... More>>

UN: Play:Fair For People And Planet – A Major United Nations Music Activation
organized by the UN SDG Action Campaign in partnership with Music Innovation Hub, Keychange, the city of Milan, the Milan Triennale, and partners from the SDG Music Network, will be held at an unexpected location in the center of Milan, Italy, taking into account safety measures with a limited on-site audience consisting of activists and fans... More>>

  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC