Rule of law

Detention and concerns over health of human rights lawyers in Iran

Who we wrote to

The supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

We wrote the letter jointly with:

  • Lawyers for Lawyers
  • Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about the continued detention and precarious health situation of Nasrin Sotoudeh and Amirsalar Davoodi, both human rights lawyers in Iran.

Ms Sotoudeh is currently serving a sentence of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes on charges of, amongst others:

  • “inciting corruption and prostitution”
  • “openly committing a sinful act by appearing in public without a hijab”
  • “disrupting public order” in connection to her human rights work

Mr Davoodi has been sentenced to 29 years in prison, 111 lashes, and a fine of 60 million rials on charges of crimes against national security for his human rights work.

Both Ms Sotoudeh and Mr Davoodi are serving their sentences in Evin Prison.

Earlier this year, the Islamic Republic of Iran temporarily released thousands of prisoners to deal with overcrowding and health concerns presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, many human rights defenders and lawyers in Iran were excluded from consideration and remain in detention, including Ms Sotoudeh and Mr Davoodi.

According to our information, prisoners in multiple prisons have tested positive for COVID-19. Prisoners are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to:

  • overcrowding
  • lack of medical attention
  • unsanitary and unhygienic prison conditions

In response to this, Ms Sotoudeh began a hunger strike on 11 August 2020. In a letter detailing her reasons for starting a hunger strike, Ms Sotoudeh has demanded prisoners held for political motives who are at risk of catching COVID-19 be released.

It was also reported that Mr Davoodi has contracted COVID-19. This is alarming, since it’s been reported that prisoners who have contracted COVID-19 in Evin Prison are not receiving any medical treatment.

What we asked for

We urged the relevant authorities to:

  • immediately and unconditionally release Ms Sotoudeh and Mr Davoodi and put an end to all acts of harassment against them, including judicial harassment
  • pending such release to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and wellbeing of Ms Sotoudeh and Mr Davoodi, as well as comply with international standards regarding conditions of detention
  • comply with the international legal obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran to ensure that members of the legal profession can carry out their professional functions without harassment and improper interference, including judicial harassment

We’ll continue to monitor the situation of Ms Sotoudeh and Mr Davoodi, as well as the situation of other lawyers in the Islamic Republic in Iran.

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