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Iran
20.08.19
Reports

New report documents the systematic criminalisation of human rights defenders

Paris-Geneva,August 20, 2019 - Human rights defenders in Iran, long-time targets of thegovernment, have been subjected to systematic judicial harassment since late2017. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, anFIDH-OMCT partnership, sheds light on this wave of repression in a new reportreleased today.

Thereport, titled Indefensible: Iran’s systematic criminalisation of humanrights defenders, documents how human rights defenders, including humanrights lawyers, have been frequently arrested withoutcharges, held in prolonged pre-trial detention without access to legalrepresentation of their choosing, sentenced to lengthy prison terms on vaguecharges following unfair trials, and incarcerated in poor conditions. Thiscriminalisation pattern is aimed at curbing their human rights activities andundermining their rights to freedom of expression.

The report is based on the analysis of 28 individualcases addressed by the Observatory in 2018 and the first half of 2019,including well-known activists and lawyers Nasrin Sotoudeh, Reza Khandan, andMohammad Najafi. Of these cases,15 are women’s rights defenders and 13 are human rights lawyers. Thirteen ofthem are currently detained, and 15 are at risk of imminent re-arrest.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is ahostile regime for human rights defenders. Any form of dissent on their part issystematically criminalised and subjected to harsh reprisals by theauthorities. The government of Iran must stop persecuting defenders and starttaking urgent measures to protect them”,said FIDH Vice President Guissou Jahangiri.

Manyhuman rights defenders, both male and female, have been targeted for theirdefence of women’s rights and their support of the protests against mandatoryhijab laws. Meanwhile, lawyers are regularly targeted for taking up humanrights cases and for representing other prosecuted human rights lawyers. Human rights lawyershave been particularly targeted because of their criticism of the judiciary,including the judiciary’s treatment of their clients and fellow lawyers.

Iran has a long history of criminalisinghuman rights defenders by prosecuting them under so-called national securitycharges. Far from being a protector of rights as required under the treatiesratified by Iran, the judiciary remains subservient to the Supreme Leader and,as shown in our report, acts as a willing executioner of the repression ofhuman rights defenders. Urgent reform is needed to ensure respect for the ruleof law and the integrity and independence of judges, lawyers, and prosecutors”, said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

Inmany cases, human rights defenders who are arrested under so-called nationalsecurity charges are denied access to a lawyer of their choice, particularlyduring the investigation process. They are handed down harsh prison sentences -up to 15 years in prison for a single charge - after unfair trials held inIran’s notorious Islamic Revolution Courts.

Mostof the human rights defenders whose cases are detailed in the report aredetained in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, infamous for its seriousovercrowding and unhygienic conditions. They are kept for long periods of timein solitary confinement, are deprived of essential medical care, and arefrequently denied visits by their families or lawyers.

Thereport addresses a series of recommendations to the Iranian authorities as wellas United Nations and European Union stakeholders. It urges the government ofIran to immediately and unconditionally release all detained human rightsdefenders and to recognise the legitimate and essential role they play insociety.

For further information, pleasecontact:
· FIDH:Eva Canan: +33 6 48 05 91 57 / Email:
ecanan@fidh.org
· OMCT:
IolandaJaquemet +41 79 539 41 06 / Email : ij@omct.org; Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39 / Email: dr@omct.org

The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is tointervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanismimplemented by international civil society.

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