Iran: UN experts "shocked" at prison sentence for lawyer

Sergio Conner
March 17, 2019

The Commission's Working Group considers communications received by the United Nations of alleged human rights violations affecting the status of women, and uses these to identify "trends and patterns of injustice and discriminatory practices against women for purposes of policy formulation and development of strategies for the promotion of gender equality".

Sotoudeh, an internationally acclaimed lawyer, has represented activists who were prosecuted for their protest against mandatory scarf.

An Iranian human rights lawyer has been sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes, according to her husband.

According to Iran's state-owned news service, IRNA, the rights lawyer was found guilty of "gathering Intel and colluding to commit crimes against national security" and for "insulting the Supreme Leader".

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.

Several Members of Parliament in Norway are also alarmed and strongly oppose her imprisonment and especially any lashes.

She was jailed in 2010 for spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security - charges she denied - and was released after serving half her six-year term. Regarding her 2016 conviction, she apparently had no knowledge that espionage charges had been laid against her until she was arrested in 2018. "I only know that the biggest sentence was 12 years", he said, for the charge of encouraging corruption and prostitution.

"Only the longest sentence will be served", the lawyer's husband told AFP. If not, it has not been determined why what he said differs from what Sotoudeh was told.

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"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".

She has reportedly been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes after what Amnesty International called two "grossly unfair" trials.

Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested from her house eight months ago.

Amnesty International has released a statement terming the sentence given to Sotoudeh "an outrageous injustice".

Javaid Rehman, the United Nations investigator on human rights in Iran raised Sotoudeh's case at the United Nations human rights council in Geneva on Monday.

"Regardless of the length, any prison sentence imposed for defending human rights defenders and their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly amounts to arbitrary detention", they said. "This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual", he has said.

The condemnation of the lawyer and activist has raised an indignant response from most of the global community, including human rights NGOs and various Western chancelleries.

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