Iran: ongoing judicial harassment of human rights lawyers

10/12/2018
Urgent Appeal
en fa

New information
IRN 004 / 0918 / OBS 115.1
Arbitrary detention /
Release on bail /
Judicial harassment
Iran
December 10, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint 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.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) about the new developments concerning the judicial harassment of human rights lawyer in Iran, including in particular the arrest of Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi, and the ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Mohammad Najafi and Arash Kaykhosravi, as well as the release on bail of Mr. Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi, and Ms. Hoda Amid, as well as the release on bail of women’s rights defender, Ms. Najmeh Vahedi.

On November 26, 2018, Mr. Najafi was sentenced to a total of 13 years of imprisonment by the Islamic Revolution Court in Arak, Markazi Province: two years for “spreading propaganda against the State” (Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code), one year for “insulting the Supreme Leader” (Article 514), and 10 years for “helping a hostile government” (Article 508), through interviews he gave to Voice of America, Radio Farda and BBC Persian Service. [1]

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). The outcome of this trial is not known up to the publication of this appeal.

According to the information received, 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 has been charged with “gathering and colluding against national security” (Article 610 of Islamic Penal Code). There are two distinct cases against him at Shahid Moghaddas Prosecutor’s Office in Evin prison but details were not made available to Mr. Davoodi’s lawyer. Mr. Davoodi has previously represented a number of political prisoners and defendants belonging to religious minorities.

On December 4, 2018, Mr. Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi was released on bail upon a ruling by Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran. The ruling was made during a hearing on December 2, 2018. The charges against him are still pending. However, Mr. Arash Kaykhosravi, who was arrested with Mr. Sholeh-Saadi and was supposed to attend the same hearing but refused for unknown reasons, remains in Greater Tehran prison, located in Fashafuyeh District, outside of Tehran. Mr. Arash Kaykhosravi and Mr. Sholeh-Saadi were arrested on August 18, 2018 on charges of “gathering and colluding against national security” (Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code) (see background information).

On November 5, 2018, Ms. Hoda Amid was released on bail, after spending more than two months in pre-trial detention. Ms. Hoda Amid had been detained in Tehran’s Evin prison since September 1, 2018, along with women’s rights defender Ms. Najmeh Vahedi, who was also released on bail on November 6, 2018 [2] (see background information).

The Observatory recalls that other human rights lawyers and human rights defenders remain in arbitrary detention, including Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh [3], Mr. Reza Khandan, Ms. Rezvaneh Mohammadi, Ms. Maryam Azad [4], Mr. Mostafa Daneshju, and Mr. Farhad Mayssami [5].

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the ongoing wave of arrests, detentions, and acts of judicial harassment against human rights lawyers, which appear to be aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all detained human rights lawyers and human rights defenders, and to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity.

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 of custodial imprisonment, including two years for “publishing lies and 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. Mr. Najafi was represented by Mr. Arash Kaykhosravi and Mr. Derafshan. Mr. Najafi has been detained several times before, the most recent being from January 15, 2018 to April, 17, 2018, in relation to the above-mentioned case. [6]

On August 18, 2018, Messrs. Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi and Arash Kaykhosravi were arrested by security forces while they were taking part in a gathering in front of the Iranian Parliament in Tehran to protest against the Guardian Council of the Constitution’s (GCC’s) control over the election process in Iran and the vetting of candidates in all elections. The two also called for free, fair and transparent elections [7]. They were taken to Evin prison in Tehran. A third lawyer, Mr. Massood Javadieh, was also arrested in front of the Parliament, before being released on bail on the same day. He has not been notified of any charges.

On August 19, 2018, Messrs. Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi and Arash Kaykhosravi were transferred to Greater Tehran prison, located in Fashafuyeh district outside Tehran, after being charged with “gathering and colluding against national security” by Branch 5 of the Prosecutor’s Office, based inside Tehran’s Evin prison.

On September 1, 2018, human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender Ms. Hoda Amid, was arrested at her home in Tehran. Ms. Najmeh Vahedi, another women’s rights defender, was also arrested a few hours later on the same day. The authorities did not provide reasons for their arrests. The two women’s rights defenders are known for jointly organising educational workshops on topics related to marriage, women’s rights, and the legal status of women in Iran. They have been involved in various campaigns for the defence of women’s rights. During their detention, they were held incommunicado in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-run Section 2A of Tehran’s Evin prison. Ms. Vahedi spent the first 10 days of her detention in solitary confinement. The authorities did not disclose the charges against the two women, who were also denied access to lawyers. While Ms. Vahedi was allowed only one visit from her mother, Ms. Amid was denied family visits.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Iran asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Mohammad Najafi, Amir Salar Davoodi and Arash Kaykhosravi, as well as all human rights lawyers and all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Iran;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Mohammad Najafi, Amir Salar Davoodi, Arash Kaykhosravi, Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi, Ms. Hoda Amid, and Ms. Najmeh Vahedi and all human rights defenders in Iran;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Mohammad Najafi, Amir Salar Davoodi, Arash Kaykhosravi, Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi, Ms. Hoda Amid, and Ms. Najmeh Vahedi as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country;

iv. Comply with 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. Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, 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. Javad Amin-Mansour, 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, December 10, 2018

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] Article 134 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code provides that if a prisoner is sentenced to several prison terms on different charges, they would serve only the highest sentence.
[2] See Observatory Open Letter to President Hassan Rouhani, published on September 28, 2018.
[3] See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 001 / 0618 / OBS 085, published on June 15, 2018.
[4] See Observatory Open Letter to President Hassan Rouhani, published on September 28, 2018.
[5] See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 005 / 1118 / OBS 138, published on November 30, 2018.
[6] See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 004 / 0918 / OBS 115, published on September 14, 2018.
[7] The GCC is responsible for supervising all national public elections, interpreting the Constitution, examining qualifications of candidates for presidenial, Parliamentary and Assembly of Experts (AE) elections, as well as ensuring the compatibility of the legislation passed by the Parliament with the criteria of Islam and the constitution. The body exercises discretionary power over all electoral processes and can disqualify any candidates before and after elections without providing reasons.

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