Nasrin Sotoudeh

The treatment of jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in Iran has been strongly condemned by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

The joint program by the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) issued a statement on Friday October 19, condemning “the harassment faced by Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh” and denouncing “the policy of subjecting jailed human rights defenders to punitive measures in prison.”

The announcement cites Sotoudeh’s work “defending juveniles facing the death penalty, prisoners of conscience, human rights activists and children victims of abuse and a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC)” and states that she is now serving a six-year jail term in prison.

Sotoudeh has been charged with propaganda against the regime and threatening national security.

The rights organization added that Sotoudeh is now being “subjected to increasingly restrictive and clearly discriminative and arbitrary conditions of detention.”

Her visiting days have been changed without any legitimate reason from Sunday to Wednesday. She is reportedly denied in-person family visits and is kept from making any phone calls. 

The statement also reports that the punitive measures against Sotoudeh are not new and that she has been held in solitary confinement for long stretches and denied family visits. The report also claims that she was subjected to torture in order to make certain confessions. Her family is banned from travelling abroad.

Sotoudeh has once again begun a hunger strike to protest the measures taken against her in prison. Since October 17, she has refused food, and there are grave concerns regarding her health.

Souhayr Belhassen, the president of FIDH, says: “The conditions of detention imposed on Nasrin Sotoudeh are unacceptable and clearly aim at imposing additional punishment on her for her human rights activities.”

The OMCT Secretary General also condemns Sotoudeh’s treatment, saying: “The punitive measures against Ms. Sotoudeh while in detention once more illustrate the relentless policy of the Iranian authorities to stifle human rights defenders, which should be strongly condemned by the whole international community.”

The statement calls for the unconditional release of all human rights defenders by Iranian authorities.