European Parliament Urges Iran To Release Sotoudeh, Other Jailed Rights Defenders

Nasrin Sotoudeh

"It is absolutely shocking that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing almost four decades in jail and 148 lashes for her peaceful human rights work, including her defence of women protesting against Iran's degrading forced hijab (veil) laws".

Web Desk: A famous human right lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh from Iran has been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. She spent three years in prison and was released in 2013.

Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said "Sotoudeh's sentence is a threat aimed at every human rights advocate in Iran to stop defending human rights".

Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, earlier this week said that she will have to serve an extra 10-years in prison - the longest sentence of the seven verdicts - on top of a five-year term she is now serving.

She has denied all charges against her. "Eight months earlier she had been told that the five-year prison sentence issued earlier would be enforced", Khandan said, according to DW.

The U.S. State Department on March 12 condemned the new prison sentences imposed on Sotoudeh "in the strongest possible terms".

"Her detention and the charges against her appear to relate to her work as a human rights lawyer, especially representing Iranian women human rights defenders arrested for peacefully protesting against laws making the wearing of veils compulsory for women", the experts said.

Amnesty demanded that Nasrin Sotoudeh must be released immediately and unconditionally and the sentence should be quashed without delay.

The European Commission has called for an immediate review of Sotoudeh's case, saying that her trial featured "a number of other violations of the right to due process".

According to Amnesty International, Iran has tightened its grip on outspoken human rights activists, including political dissidents, journalists, online media workers, students, filmmakers, musicians and writers, and minority rights and environmental activists.

Iran, often accused of human rights abuse, said on Monday it had allowed UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore to visit last week at the head of a "technical mission". "(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 outcome of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration".

Human Rights Watch said the sentence was "draconian", describing it as "an appalling travesty of justice".

"Human rights should be defended, not prosecuted", he added.

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