Iran: Ongoing judicial harassment against human rights lawyers Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi and Mr. Mohammad Najafi

19/04/2019
Urgent Appeal
en fa

New information
IRN 004 / 0918 / OBS 115.3
Arbitrary detention/
Judicial harassment/
Indictment
Iran
April 19, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) about the ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi and the sentencing and re-arrest of Mr. Mohammad Najafi. Both of them are human rights lawyers.

According to the information received on April 16, 2019, Branch 2 of the Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran’s Evin prison issued an indictment against Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi on charges of “cooperating with hostile governments through giving interviews to VOA [1]” (purportedly under Article 508 of the Islamic Penal Code) and “establishing a group to overthrow the system” (Article 498). The case was referred to Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran. It is believed that the second charge is linked to Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi’ creation of a public channel called “withoutretouch” on the messaging application Telegram, on which he reported news and events regarding lawyers and the Bar Association. This channel was also used to share personal opinions on various topics including objections to the detention of lawyers such as Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh [2] and Messrs. Arash Kaykhosravi and Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi [3], and other lawyers, as well as occasional statements critical of the actions of the Supreme Leader and the former Head of the Judiciary. Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi has been detained in Evin prison since November 20, 2018 (see background information).

Moreover, the Observatory has received reliable information that the Court of Appeals in Arak, Markazi Province, upheld the conviction and prison sentence issued by Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolution Court of Arak against Mr. Mohammad Najafi on November 26, 2018 (see background information): one year imprisonment for “spreading propaganda in favour of groups and organisations opposed to the system” (purportedly under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code), two years imprisonment for “insulting the leader of the Islamic Republic” (Article 514) and ten years imprisonment for “co-operating with hostile governments by transmitting news and information in interviews” (purportedly under Article 508) through interviews he gave to Voice of America, Radio Farda, and BBC Persian Service. Under the provisions of Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code [4], Mr. Najafi will likely have to serve these sentences concurrently, i.e. up to 10 years in prison.

Mr. Mohammad Najafi was arrested on April 1, 2019 to serve his sentence and is currently detained in Arak prison.

The Observatory notes that Mr. Mohammad Najafi was released from Arak prison in Markazi Province under an amnesty on March 28, 2019. He was serving a three-year sentence related to his defence work in the case of the death of a protester in police custody in January 2018 in Arak (see background information).

The Observatory recalls that several other human rights lawyers are currently detained for exercising their profession or for defending human rights, including Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, and Messrs. Farhad Mohammadi and Massood Shamsnejad [5]. Others were arrested and released on bail and are still awaiting the outcome of their case.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Mohammad Najafi and Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi which seem to be aimed only at punishing them for the legitimate exercise of their rights.

Background information:

On July 26, 2018, the Criminal Court Branch 102 in Arak, Markazi Province, sentenced Mr. Mohammad Najafi to a total of three years in prison, including two years for “disturbing the public opinion” (Article 698 of the Islamic Penal Code), and one year and 74 lashes for “disrupting [public] order” (Article 618). On October 3, 2018, the Court of Appeals in Markazi Province upheld Mr. Najafi’s conviction and prison sentence. On October 26, 2018, Mr. Najafi was detained to serve his prison sentence. The charges were related to Mr. Najafi’s acting as a defence lawyer in the case of the death of a protester in police custody in January 2018 in Arak. In January 2019, the Supreme Court rejected his application for a retrial in this case but the 74 lashes sentence was withdrawn in consideration of Mr. Najafi’s diabetes.Mr. Mohammad Najafi was released under an amnesty on March 28, 2019.

In a separate case, on November 20, 2018, Mr. Mohammad Najafi was tried by the criminal court in Shazand, Markazi Province, on charges of “publishing lies and disturbing the public opinion” (Article 698 of the Islamic Penal Code). On January 22, 2019, Branch 102 of the Criminal Court in Shazand sentenced Mr. Mohammad Najafi to two years’ imprisonment and a 40 million-rial (approximately 300 Euros) fine under Article 698 of the Islamic Penal Code (“publishing lies and disturbing the public opinion”) for “disturbing the public opinion by means of spreading lies in cyberspace by publishing a [critically worded] [6] letter to the Leader on his Instagram page”. Mr. Najafi appealed his conviction and sentence on the grounds that he had been tried and sentenced under the same charge several times. Indeed, on December 15, 2018, the Criminal Court in Shazand had sentenced Mr. Najafi to one year imprisonment on charges of “spreading lies in cyberspace” for the publication of that same letter on Facebook. Mr. Najafi appealed the sentence.

On November 20, 2018, Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi was arrested in Tehran, his office and house were searched, and he was placed in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin prison. On the same day, the Prosecutor’s Office issued a one-month detention order against him. Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi was charged with “gathering and colluding against national security” (Article 610 of Islamic Penal Code). Mr. Davoodi has previously represented various political prisoners and defendants belonging to religious and ethnic minorities.

On January 21, 2019, Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi was charged with “insulting the Leader” (Article 514 of the Islamic Penal Code) and “spreading propaganda against the system” (Article 500), and his case was referred to Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court of Tehran. Although his parents were allowed to visit him on January 21, 2019, he was still denied visits from his wife, Ms. Tannaz Kolahchian, who is also a lawyer. Ms. Tannaz Kolahchian was summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office on January 5, 2019 and interrogated on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” (Article 500), but her case was later closed.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Iran asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Mohammad Najafi and Amir Salar Davoodi and all other Iranian human rights defenders;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Mohammad Najafi and Amir Salar Davoodi, and all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Mohammad Najafi and Amir Salar Davoodi, and all other human rights defenders, and ensure they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

iv. Conform to all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6, 9, 11 and 12;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran.

Addresses:

• Leader of the Islamic Republic, H.E. Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, Fax: + 98 21 441 2030, Email: info_leader@leader.ir; Twitter: @khamenei_ir
• President Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 644 54811; Email: media@rouhani.ir; Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian).
• Head of the Judiciary, H.E. Hojattolislam Ebrahim Ra’eesi, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: info@dadiran.ir / info@dadgostary-tehran.ir / info@bia-judiciary.ir
• Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98-21-66743149; matbuat@mfa.gov.ir
• Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Javad Larijani, Islamic Republic of Iran. Email: info@humanrights-iran.ir
• H.E. Mr. Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: mission.iran@ties.itu.int
• H.E. Mr. Peiman Seadat, Ambassador, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email: secreteriat@iranembassy.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Iran in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, April 19, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] VOA (Voice of America), is a governmental international broadcaster of the United States of America in Persian language.
[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 001 / 0618 / OBS 085.1, published on March 12, 2019.
[3] See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 003 / 0818 / OBS 106, published on August 23, 2018.
[4] Under the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, a prisoner sentenced to several sentences should serve only the highest sentence.
[5] See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 002 / 0219 / OBS 017, published on February 19, 2019.
[6] One quote: "Our lives are as black as your turban. Pull out your robe from neighbouring lands. Do not spend our assets for your Shiite ideology. There is enough embezzlement and corruption at home."

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