JOINT STATEMENT - THE OBSERVATORY & LDDHI
Paris-Geneva, February 19, 2021 – In early February, the convictions and prison sentences of women’s rights defenders Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amid were upheld on appeal. The Observatory (FIDH-OMCT) and the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) condemn this decision and call for an end of the judicial harassment against them and all other human rights defenders in Iran.
On February 13, 2021, women’s rights defender Ms. Najmeh Vahedi, and lawyer and women’s rights defender Ms. Hoda Amid, were notified that, on February 2, 2021, the Branch 36 of the Court of Appeals of Tehran had upheld the decision of Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolution Court of Tehran, handed down in December 2020, to convict them on trumped-up charges under Article 508 of the Islamic Penal Code for “cooperating with the hostile US government” against the Islamic Republic in matters relating to women and family.
Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amid were sentenced to seven and eight years in prison, respectively. Ms. Amid was also banned from practising law for two years. In addition, the two women’s rights defenders have been prohibited from joining any political group or party, from being active on social media, and from travelling abroad for two years.
The decision by Branch 36 of the Court of Appeals to uphold Mses. Vahedi and Amid’s convictions and prison sentences was issued without the presence the defendants’ lawyers, who were not allowed to enter the courtroom and thus were unable to defend their clients.
As their sentences have not yet been enforced by the judiciary, Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amid remain free at the time of publication of this joint statement, but they are at risk of being detained to serve their prison terms at any time.
The Observatory and LDDHI strongly condemn the decision by the Court of Appeals to uphold convictions and prison sentences of Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory and LDDHI call on the Iranian authorities to put an end to the judicial harassment of the two women’s rights defenders, as well as of all other human rights defenders in the country, and to drop all charges against them.
Hoda Amid was arrested at her home in Tehran on September 1, 2018. Najmeh Vahedi, was arrested on the same day a few hours later. The two women are known for jointly organising educational workshops on topics related to marriage, women’s rights, and the legal status of women in Iran. They have been involved in various campaigns for the defence of women’s rights. During their detention, they were held incommunicado in the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC)-run Ward 2A of Tehran’s Evin prison. Ms. Vahedi spent the first 10 days of her detention in solitary confinement. The authorities did not disclose the charges against the two women, who were also denied access to lawyers. While Ms. Vahedi was allowed one visit from her mother, Ms. Amid was denied family visits. Ms. Amid was released on bail on November 5, 2018, after spending more than two months in detention. Ms. Vahedi was released on bail on November 6, 2018.
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 ProtectDefenders.eu, 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.