Iran: New prison sentence issued against imprisoned woman human rights defender, a travesty of justice

Urgent Appeal
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(Paris-Geneva) The ongoing judicial harassment against the arbitrarily imprisoned human rights defender Ms. Nargess Mohammadi in Iran should stop and she must be released immediately, said the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

On May 18, 2016, Ms. Nargess Mohammadi, Spokesperson and Vice-President of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), was notified of the new sentence issued by Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court against her: a total of 16 years consisting of five years for "assembly and collusion to commit crimes against national security", one year for "spreading propaganda against the State", and 10 years for "establishing and running the illegal splinter group LEGAM"[1]. Under Article 134 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, if the sentence is upheld on appeal, she will have to serve the highest sentence, i.e. 10 years imprisonment. She will be appealing the new sentence.

Ms. Mohammadi commenced serving an arbitrary six-year prison sentence on April 21, 2012, but she was released on July 31, 2012 on bail for medical reasons, as she suffered from muscular paralysis and lung complications. She was arbitrarily re-arrested on May 5, 2015, allegedly in order to serve the remainder of the same six-year prison sentence, although she was still suffering from the same diseases. Ms. Mohammadi was particularly targeted after she met with then European Union (EU) High Representative Ms. Ashton in Tehran during the latter’s visit in March 2014, which prompted the charge of "spreading propaganda against the State" in the new case.

Ms. Mohammadi was transferred to hospital in October 2015 after suffering nervous attacks, where she was under round the clock watch and was chained hand and foot to her bed and suffered convulsions at least three times.

Ms. Mohammadi has been facing continuous judicial harassment related to her human rights work, in and out of prison, including repeated summons, interrogations and trials for several years now[2]. She received the "City of Paris" medal in May 2016.

The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Mohammadi, and to release her immediately and unconditionally since her detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning her human rights activities. The Observatory more generally urges the Iranian authorities to put an end to all harassment - including at the judicial level - against all human rights defenders in Iran.

The Observatory further urges the EU and the French Government to intervene on Ms. Mohammadi’s behalf, as well as the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which has received an official complaint regarding Ms. Mohammadi’s case, to urgently issue an Opinion on her case.

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.


[1] LEGAM ("Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty") is a group of human rights activists, which campaigns for the abolition of death penalty in Iran. It has never been declared illegal. Ms. Mohammadi joined LEGAM after it was established.

[2] See Observatory Press Releases of May 5, 2015, July 10, 2015, and October 19, 2015.

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