IRAN: Nasrin Sotoudeh back in prison despite poor health condition

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Paris-Geneva, December 9, 2020 – After three weeks of temporary release on health grounds, prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sent back to Qarchak prison on December 2, 2020. The Observatory (FIDH-OMCT) and the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) condemn this decision and call for Ms. Sotoudeh’s immediate and unconditional release.

December 2, 2020, marked the end of a short respite for Nasrin Sotoudeh. On that day, she was ordered back to Qarchak prison, from which she had been temporarily released on health grounds on November 7, 2020, under unclear conditions. Her temporary release was ordered with the consent of the prosecutor in charge of women’s prisons to allow Ms. Sotoudeh to receive adequate medical treatment for heart and pulmonary diseases. However, after undergoing a series of medical tests, she tested positive to COVID-19, which prevented her from receiving treatment for her other medical conditions.

Ms. Sotoudeh was sent back to prison a day before she was due to receive the Right Livelihood Award, without receiving adequate medical care and beforeany improvement of her health conditions. This premature return to prison represents a new risk for her health, already weakened by more than two years of detention, particularly given the deplorable sanitary conditions in Qarchak prison. The health of Ms. Sotoudeh, who has been arbitrarily detained since June 13, 2018, has worsened in recent months due to the hunger strike she undertook in Tehran’s Evin prison from August 11 to September 25, 2020, to call for the release of all political prisoners in Iran.

The Observatory and LDDHI recall that she was transferred to Taleghani Hospital (Tehran) from September 19 to September 23, 2020. She was then sent back to prison before completing her treatment and without receiving any specific medical attention, which put her health in great danger. The Observatory and LDDHI are strongly concerned that her health may deteriorate further in detention, given the Iranian authorities’ usual denial of medical care to human rights defenders.

The Observatory and LDDHI strongly condemn the decision of the Iranian authorities to send Nasrin Sotoudeh back to prison, and reiterate their call for her immediate and unconditional release.

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, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

The League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) was founded in Paris in March 1983, following the forced closure of the “Iranian Association for the Defence of Human Rights and Liberties” (established in 1977) in 1981, and the departure of its leaders into exile. Since its establishment, LDDHI has consistently reported and campaigned against human rights violations in Iran, concentrating on the abolition of the death penalty in Iran, women’s rights, freedom of political prisoners, rights of religious and ethnic minorities, freedoms of expression, assembly and association among others. LDDHI has been a member of FIDH since 1986.

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