Iran: The Observatory petitions UN body over the ongoing detention of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Press release
en fa

Paris-Geneva, September 21, 2018 - The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the OMCT, has petitioned the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to seek the release of Iranian human rights lawyer Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer and 2012 laureate of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, was arrested on June 13, 2018 at her home in Tehran. She was subsequently taken to Tehran’s Evin prison to serve a five-year prison sentence that was handed down against her in absentia in 2016 but had not been communicated to Ms. Sotoudeh until her arrest, in blatant contravention of national and international fair trial standards.

“We reiterate our strong condemnation of the ongoing detention of Nasrin Sotoudeh, which is clearly aimed at stopping her from conducting her human rights work. We ask the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to declare the deprivation of liberty of Nasrin Sotoudeh ‘arbitrary’ and to urge the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release her”, said Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President.

“Like many other fellow human rights lawyers who were recently arrested or summoned to court, Ms. Sotoudeh’s detention is a direct retaliation for defending political prisoners and taking up human rights cases. We urge the international community to condemn vehemently the increasing assault against human rights lawyers in Iran and to at last hold Iranian authorities accountable for the worsening human rights situation in the country”, added Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

On August 25, 2018, Ms. Sotoudeh started a hunger strike to protest against her detention on trumped-up charges and the judicial harassment faced by her family and friends, including her husband, Mr. Reza Khandan, who is also detained after having been arrested on September 4, 2018. On September 16, 2018, Ms. Sotoudeh was informed that she would be denied her family visitation rights if she and her female visitors - including her daughter - did not wear a full hijab. Ms Sotoudeh has refused the condition and was denied the right to see her daughter on September 17, 2018.

The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Sotoudeh and to cease all acts of harassment and other abuses against her and all human rights defenders in Iran, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Iran is a State party.

For further information, please contact:

· FIDH: Maryna Chebat Tel: +33 6 48 05 91 57 / Email:
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39 / Email:

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 intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

Read more