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Urgent Interventions

Heavy sentence against human rights defender Nargess Mohammadi must be overturned

Paris-Geneva, September 29, 2016. TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCTpartnership) strongly condemns the heavy prison sentence upheld in appealagainst the arbitrarily imprisoned human rights defender Ms. Nargess Mohammadi,Spokesperson and Vice-President of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC)and recipient of the medal of the “City of Paris”, and calls for an end to theongoing judicial harassment against her.

©International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

OnSeptember 28, 2016, Branch 36 of the Tehran Court of Appeals upheld thesentence which had been issued on May 18 against Ms. Nargess Mohammadi.The Court of Appeals asserted in its ruling that pursuant to Article 134 of theIslamic Penal Code, the maximum sentence against her should be implementedagainst her, i.e. 10 years of imprisonment.

Onthe same day, Ms. Mohammadi’s husband, Taghi Rahmani, reported that during ahearing on September 19, the court had accepted the request of her lawyers tosubmit new evidence, but then rushed to impose the new sentence beforereceiving the evidence.

On May 18, 2016, Ms. NargessMohammadi had been notified of a new sentence issued by Branch 15 of theIslamic Revolution Court against her[1],totalling 16 years in prison consisting of five years for “assembly andcollusion to commit crimes against national security”, one year for “spreadingpropaganda against the State”, and 10 years for “establishing and running theillegal splinter group LEGAM”[2].Under the above-mentioned Article 134 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, shewas required to serve the highest sentence, i.e. 10 years of imprisonment.

Ms. Mohammadi has been facing continuousjudicial harassment related to her human rights work, in and out of prison,including repeated summons, interrogations and trials for several years.

On April 21, 2012, she had commencedserving another six-year prison sentence but had been released on bail on July31, 2012 for medical reasons, as she suffered from muscular paralysis and lungcomplications. On May 5, 2015, she was arbitrarily re-arrested, allegedlyin order to serve the remainder of the same six-year prison sentence, althoughshe was still suffering from the same diseases[3].Ms. Mohammadi was particularly targeted aftershe met with then European Union (EU) High Representative Ms. Catherine Ashtonin Tehran during her visit in March 2014, which prompted the charge of“spreading propaganda against the State” in the new case.

In October 2015, Ms. Mohammadi, aftersuffering nervous attacks, was transferred from the prison to the hospital,where she was kept under round the clock watch and was chained hand and foot toher bed. Such chaining and surveillance within the healthcare facility appearto be an inhuman and degrading punishment for her activities promoting humanrights[4].

The Observatory urges once more the Iranian authorities to release Ms.Mohammadi immediately and unconditionally, since her detention is arbitrary asit only aims at sanctioning her human rights activities, as well as toguarantee in all circumstances her physical and psychological integrity.

The Observatory finallyurges the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which hasreceived an official communication regarding Ms. Mohammadi’s case, to urgentlyissue an Opinion on her situation, and reiterates its calls to the EU and theFrench Government to intervene on Ms. Mohammadi’s behalf.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 bythe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European UnionHuman Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civilsociety.

For more information,please contact:

FIDH: Mr Arthur Manet / Ms.Audrey Couprie: +33648059157 (Paris)

OMCT: Mr. Miguel MartínZumalacárregui / Ms. Chiara Cosentino +32 2 218 37 19 (Brussels) / Ms. DelphineReculeau: +41 22 809 49 39 (Geneva)

[1] See Observatory Press Releaseof May 20, 2016

[2] LEGAM (“Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty”) is a group of humanrights activists, which campaigns for the abolition of death penalty in Iran.It has never been declared illegal. Ms. Mohammadi joined LEGAM after it wasestablished.

[3] See Observatory Press Release of May 5, 2015.

[4] See Observatory Press Releaseof October 19, 2015.

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