Urgent Interventions

Sentencing of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh to 33 years in jail

New information

IRN 001 / 0618 / OBS 085.1
Sentencing /


March 12
, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership ofFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received newinformation and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation inIran.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the League for the Defence of HumanRights in Iran (LDDHI) about the conviction and sentencing of Ms. NasrinSotoudeh, a human rights lawyer and 2012 laureate of the EuropeanParliament’s Sakharov Prize, to 33 years in jail and 148 lashes.

According to the informationreceived, on March 9, 2019, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh received a copy of a courtruling issued after a one-day hearing held in absentia on December 30,2018, by Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran. The court foundher guilty and sentenced her to 33 years in jail and 148 lashes on thefollowing seven charges: “gathering and collusion against national security”(Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code), “spreading propaganda against thesystem” (Article 500), “effective membership of the illegal and anti-securitysplinter groups Defenders of Human Rights Centre, LEGAM[1]and National Council of Peace” (Article 498); “encouraging people to commitcorruption and prostitution, and providing the means for it” (Article 639),“appearing without the sharia-sanctioned hijab at the premises of themagistrate’s office” (Article 638); “disrupting public order and calm” (Article618) and “spreading falsehoods with intent to disturb the public opinion”(Article 698).

Judge Mohammad Moqisseh sentenced her to themaximum punishment in each and every case, i.e. a total of 29 years. In addition,he used the provisions of Article 134 of the same law to impose four more yearsof imprisonment on the ground that Ms. Sotoudeh had committed “more than threecrimes.” No lawyer represented her before the court, as she refused to appointa lawyer to protest against provisions restricting the right of those accusedof national security crimes to be represented by a lawyer of their choosing.Ms. Sotoudeh has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

TheProsecutor argued in the indictment that Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh “removed her hijabduring family visits in Evin prison” and “removed her headscarf at theProsecutor’s Office”; “was a prominent, active and organised member ofDefenders of Human Rights Centre, LEGAAM and National Council of Peace”;“received the amount of 50,000 Euros in disguise of Sakharov prize for hersubversive actions”; “was involved in a call for a referendum”; “helped theestablishment of house churches”; “made false statements about detention ofwomen who took off their hijab, accusing police agents of abuse”; “encouragedthe people to commit corruption and prostitution"; and “was involved, alongside elementsaffiliated to the Gonabadi Order of Dervishes, in action outside the Evinprison.”

The Observatory expresses its deepest concernabout the sentencing and continuing arbitrary detention of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh,which appears to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rightsactivities.

TheObservatory further recalls that Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh was already arrested anddetained in June 2018 to serve a five-year prison sentence in a separate case (seebackground information).

The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities toimmediately and unconditionally release Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and to guaranteeher physical integrity and psychological well-being. The Observatory furtherurges the Iranian authorities to drop all the charges and end all judicialharassment against her.

Background information:

InAugust 2015, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh was summoned for interrogation following therenewal of her lawyer’s licence, nine months after she held a sit-in to protestagainst a three-year suspension of her licence. The summons did not specify anycharges. However, she was unable to attend the interrogation due to a surgeryon her foot at the time. Her husband went to the court in her place andpresented medical documents regarding her condition and her inability torespond to the summons.

Shewas then given three weeks to go to the Islamic Revolution Court. However, whenshe did go, she was not allowed in, as a number of lawyers are barred fromentering the court’s building. Ms. Sotoudeh was also summoned to appear beforethe Islamic Revolution Court on September 4, 2016. However, she was not allowedinside the court on the pretext that the colour and design of her clothing werenot proper and on this occasion she was neither tried nor notified of anypending charges. However, it was established after her arrest in 2018 that thecourt had sentenced her in absentia to five years on the same day.

On June 13, 2018, security forces arrested Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh at herhome in Tehran and transferred her to the capital’s Evin prison. Upon herarrest, she was presented with an arrest warrant and was told that she wasbeing taken to serve a five-year prison sentence, which had been handed downagainst her in absentia. Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh was not shown the court’sruling related to the sentence and had not been informed of the conviction orthe sentence prior to her arrest. This is in flagrant contravention of domesticand international fair trial standards. Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh filed an appealagainst the sentence. At the time of publication, it was still pending.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Iran asking them to:

i. Immediatelyand unconditionally release Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, as wellas all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Iran;

ii.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychologicalwell-being of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, as well as that of all other human rightsdefenders in Iran;

iii. Dropall charges pending against Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and meanwhile ensure that alljudicial proceedings against her are carried out in full compliance with herright to a fair trial, as protected under international law;

iv. Putan end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms.Nasrin Sotoudeh as well as that all other human rights defenders arbitrarilydetained in the country, and ensure they are able to carry out their activitieswithout hindrance;

v.Conform to all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human RightsDefenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particularits Articles 1, 6, 9, 11 and 12;

vi.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by Iran.


• Leader of the Islamic Republic, H.E. Ayatollah SayedAli Khamenei, Fax: + 98 21 441 2030, Email:; Twitter:@khamenei_ir
• President Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 644 54811;Email:; Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir(Persian).
• Head of the Judiciary,
H.E. Hojattolislam Ebrahim Ra'eesi, Islamic Republic ofIran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: / /
• Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Islamic Republic of Iran,Fax: +98-21-66743149;
• Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed JavadLarijani, Islamic Republic of Iran. Email:
• H.E. Mr. Javad Amin-Mansour, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of theIslamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +4122 7330203, Email:
• H.E. Mr. Peiman Seadat, Ambassador, Embassy of Iran in Brussels,Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email:

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Iran in your respectivecountries.


Paris-Geneva, March 12, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

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

[1] Campaign for“Step by Step Abolition of the Death Penalty”