Urgent Interventions

Nasrin Sotoudeh's health is deteriorating alarmingly, she must be released immediately

Paris-Geneva, October 16, 2020 The Observatory (FIDH-OMCT) and the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) reiterate their call on the Iranian authorities to immediately release prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, 2020 Right Livelihood Award laureate and 2012 Sakharov Prize laureate, whose health deteriorated significantly after her 46 days-long hunger strike and her subsequent hospitalisation.

The life of Nasrin Sotoudeh is currently at great risk in Tehran’s Evin prison, where she has been detained since June 13, 2018.

Ms. Sotoudeh’s health has severely deteriorated since she went on a hunger strike on August 11, 2020 to call for the release of all human rights defenders and political prisoners in Iran. On September 19, 2020, she was transferred from Evin prison to Taleghani Hospital (Tehran), placed in coronary care unit due to heart problems arising from her hunger strike, and sent back to Evin prison on September 23 without any particular medical attention. She eventually ended her hunger strike on September 25, 2020 because of major risks for her health.

On October 13, her husband Reza Khandan publicly denounced that Ms. Sotoudeh’s current health problems probably stemmed from delays in medical treatment and supervision provided to her, and that she may have been at risk of contracting COVID-19 while at the hospital as six of the prison guards in charge of her there later tested positive to COVID-19. Because of pre-existing health conditions, Ms. Sotoudeh is among the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and could suffer severe complications in case of infection. It was also revealed that prison doctors expressed their surprise at Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh’s premature return to Evin prison in light of her condition, and that some doctors outside the prison who could review some of her medical information denounced a “deliberate attempt to put her life in danger”.

The Observatory and LDDHI are deeply concerned about Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh’s health deterioration as a result of the obvious negligence of the Iranian authorities, and 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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