UN Calls on Iran to Release Nasrin Sotoudeh

  • The Iranian government has sent about 120,000 prisoners on leave since February, with the unprecedented expansion of the coronavirus in the country.
  • Bachelet said Iran was among the countries most affected by the coronavirus and its prisons were full.
  • Bachelet has said that it is time for the Iranian government to end the violation of praiseworthy rights because of her efforts on behalf of others.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern about the situation of activists and imprisoned lawyers in Iran, calling for their release amid the expansion of the coronavirus. Michelle Bachelet expressed concern about the situation of Nasrin Sotoudeh, in Tehran’s Evin prison.

Michelle Bachelet is a Chilean politician who served as President of Chile from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2014 to 2018, the first woman to occupy the position. In August 2018, the United Nations nominated her to become the next High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Bachelet issued a statement urging Iranian authorities to release political prisoners as soon as possible due to the spread of the Coronavirus in Iranian prisons.

The Iranian government has sent about 120,000 prisoners on leave since February, with the unprecedented expansion of the coronavirus in the country, but according to Bachelet’s office, some of these prisoners have been forced to return to prison after their leave expires.

However, prisoners sentenced to more than five years in prison on charges of “threat to national security” were not eligible for leave.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Bachelet stressed that measures designed to reduce the prevalence of COVID-19 are discriminatory against this particular group of prisoners and cause resentment.

Bachelet said Iran was among the countries most affected by the coronavirus and its prisons were full, and a number of prisoners had died.

Release Nasrin Sotoudeh

Bachelet continued her statement by expressing concern over the health of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights activist detained in Evin, and called on the authorities of the Islamic Republic to release Sotoudeh so that she could be treated at home.

Bachelet described Sotoudeh’s situation as “a clear example” of the alarming treatment of political prisoners in Iran. She said in a statement:

“Shortages of water, hygiene products, and disinfectant, insufficient protective equipment, and testing kits, as well as a lack of isolation spaces and inadequate medical care, have led to the spread of the virus among detainees and have reportedly resulted in a number of deaths.”

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a human rights lawyer in Iran. She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections.

Bachelet has said that it is time for the Iranian government to end the violation of praiseworthy rights because of her efforts on behalf of others. The High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed concern about the persistent and systematic targeting of those who express any dissent, as well as the criminalization of fundamental rights.

“I am very concerned that Nasrin Sotoudeh’s life is at risk,” Bachelet said, reiterating her call for the authorities to “immediately release her and grant her the possibility of recuperating at home before undergoing the medical treatment of her choice.”

“It is time for the government to cease violating her own rights because of the efforts she has made on behalf of others,” Bachelet added. As a result, according to Bachelet:

“Most of those who may have been arbitrarily detained — including human rights defenders, lawyers, dual and foreign nationals, conservationists, and others deprived of their liberty for expressing their views or exercising other rights — have been placed at a heightened risk of contracting the virus.”

At the end of her statement, Bachelet called on the Iranian authorities to comply with international legal obligations and to review the convictions of all those detained without sufficient legal basis.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for the unconditional release of human rights defenders, lawyers, political prisoners, and all those imprisoned for participating in peaceful protests or deprived of their liberty for expressing dissent or exercising their rights.

Bachelet has also called for “this injustice” to be remedied as COVID-19 hangs out in Iranian prisons.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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