Iran: Ongoing restrictive and arbitrary conditions of detention imposed on Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh

Urgent Appeal
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The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (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
IRN 006 / 0910 / OBS 108.4
Arbitrary detention / Violation of her right to regular visits by her family

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) of the ongoing restrictive and arbitrary conditions of detention imposed on Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights lawyer known for defending juveniles facing death penalty, prisoners of conscience, human rights activists and children victims of abuse and being a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), winner of the 2012 prestigious Sakharov human rights prize awarded by the European Parliament.

According to the information received, on November 20, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is serving a six-year imprisonment sentence in Evin prison, was finally allowed to receive a visit from her husband and children, in the presence of security officers. Ms. Sotoudeh is extremely thin now and weighs 43 kilos and continues her hunger strike to protest against the pressures inflicted against her children and husband.

For a few weeks, her family members had been denied the right to visit her, except on November 12 when only her children could visit her.

The Observatory further recalls that Ms. Sotoudeh has been on unlimited hunger strike since October 17, 2012 to protest against these measures restricting her right to visitation, and the pressures on her children and husband.

Following her hunger strike, the prison authorities issued a three-week punitive sentence of solitary confinement against Ms. Sotoudeh [1]. On October 31, a while after she had started her hunger strike, she was illegally transferred from Women’s Section to Section 209 [2] instead of Section 240, which is the “ordinary” solitary cells section of the prison, and is under the prison - and therefore judicial – administration until November 19. Her transfer to Section 209 was therefore illegal.

The Observatory therefore reiterates its demand on the Iranian authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, and, more generally, of all human rights lawyers and defenders currently detained in Iran in relation to their human rights activities.

Background information:

On August, 28, 2010, Ms. Sotoudeh’s office and home were searched by members of the services of intelligence and her assets frozen.

On September 4, 2010, Ms. Sotoudeh went to Prosecutor’s Office based in Evin prison, where she had been summoned on allegations of “propaganda against the system” and “collusion and gathering with the aim of acting against national security” following interviews given to international media as well as for “membership in an illegal organisation” [the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC)]. After her questioning by a magistrate, Ms. Sotoudeh was arrested. Her lawyer was not permitted to be present during the questioning.

Before her arrest, she had reported several times, including in an interview with Radio Farda on May 2, 2010, that the authorities were using tax harassment against human rights lawyers in order to limit their working conditions. She gave the example of Ms. Shirin Ebadi who was subjected to the payment of a tax bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars on the money she had been granted for her Nobel Peace Prize.

During her detention she was held for long periods in solitary confinement and denied contact with her family and lawyer. She came close to death after three dry hunger strikes to protest her prison conditions and violations of due process. She was reportedly tortured in order to force her to confess.

On November 28, 2010, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh appeared before the Tehran Islamic Revolution Court. At the hearing, her lawyers requested her release on bail, which was denied by the court.

On January 9, 2011, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court to 11 years of imprisonment, and banned from practicing law and traveling abroad for 20 years on charge of “acting against national security” “propaganda against the system”, “collusion and gathering with the aim of acting against national security” and “membership in an illegal organisation”. On September 14, 2011, her sentence was reduced by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court to six years imprisonment and 10 years ban on practicing law. She was also fined by another court for “not wearing hijab during a videotaped message”.

On July 11, 2012, the authorities banned Ms. Sotoudeh’s husband and 12-year-old daughter from travelling abroad. This case has now been referred to the Islamic Revolution Court (Branch 28), which has summoned them to appear.

In September – October 2012, Ms. Sotoudeh’s visiting day was changed from Sunday to Wednesday without any legitimate ground being provided by the prison authorities. In addition to being deprived of face-to-face family visits, the new measure, which contravened the prison’s rules, made it more and more difficult for her to receive visits from her family over the past three months. However, after she went on hunger strike, the authorities changed her visitation days back to Sunday. It is also to be recalled that Ms. Sotoudeh has been banned from making phone calls since May 2011.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Iranian authorities and ask them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh as well as all human rights defenders in Iran;

ii. Release her, as well all human rights defenders in Iran, immediately and unconditionally, since her detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities;

iii. In the meantime, provide her with all the medical treatment she would require during her detention and grant her family unhindered visitation with her;

iv. Put an end to acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against her as well as against all human rights defenders in Iran;

v. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:

 article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

 article 5(c), which reads that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels, [...] to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations”,

 article 9 which notably states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia […] to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms,

 and article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

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


· Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 649 5880 / 21 774 2228, Email: /

· President Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 649 5880. Email:

· Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, c/o Public Relations Office, Number 4, 2nd Azizi Street, Vali Asr Ave., north of Pasteur Street intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: / /

· Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Ali Akbar Salehi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Imam Khomeini Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 6674 3149, Email:

· Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Jayad Larijani, [Care of] Office of the Head of the Judicary, Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave, South of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran. Email:

· H.E. Mr. Seyed Mohammad Reza Sajjadi, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:

· Embassy of Iran in Brussels, 15 a avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email:

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


Paris-Geneva, November 22, 2012

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· Email:

· Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

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