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Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh sentenced to 38 years in prison

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh photographed in the garden of her office in Tehran, Iran, 9 December 2014
Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh photographed in the garden of her office in Tehran, Iran, 9 December 2014

Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on gc4hr.org on 13 March 2019.

On 11 March 2019, human rights defender Reza Khandan posted on his Facebook page that, "Nasrin's sentence in relation to her last cases has been informed to her in prison. 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. 5 years in prison in relation to the first case and 33 years in prison and 148 lashes in relation to the second case."

On 13 June 2018, Nasrin Sotoudeh was taken from her home in Tehran. During the interrogation, she was told that the charges against her are "propaganda against the state," for allegedly being a member of LEGAM, an NGO opposed to the death penalty, and "assembly and collusion against national security."

On 15 August 2018, Sotoudeh in a separate trial was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia for the two charges as well as for "espionage". She has appealed the conviction.

Reports suggested that her detention is related to her legal representation of women arrested in Iran for peacefully protesting against the Islamic Republic's compulsory hijab law, and for criticising the judiciary.

For many years, Sotoudeh has represented prominent opposition activists, and was previously imprisoned from 2010 to 2013, after being convicted on security-related charges for her human rights work. She was initially sentenced to 11 years in prison, reduced to six years and then released after three years.

Sotoudeh was awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Union in 2012. She has two children.

GCHR expresses serious concern at the continued targeting and harassment of human rights defenders in Iran and the lack of civic space. GCHR also condemns in the strongest terms the harsh sentence passed against Nasrin Sotoudeh, a peaceful human rights defender, targeted simply for doing her job as a lawyer.

GCHR urges the authorities in Iran to:

. Immediately and unconditionally release Nasrin Sotoudeh and revoke the sentence against her and in addition to drop all charges against her;

. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nasrin Sotoudeh while she remains in detention;
Provide human rights defenders with a safe civic space in which to conduct their work; and

. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Iran are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.

GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters", and to Article 12 (1 and 2): "(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration."

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