Appointing Iran to UN Women's Rights Panel Sends "Worst Possible Message"

Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

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.

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.

Sotoudeh, held at Evin Prison in Tehran, told her husband about the latest sentencing during a brief telephone conversation, the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a monitoring group, said in a statement on Monday.

In a judgement which seems harder than any earlier crackdown on dissent that the Iranian govt is known of, Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to three decades in prison and 148 lashes, according to her family.

On March 11, judge Mohammad Moghiseh spoke of a sentence of seven years in prison: five years for "crimes against national security" and two additional years for "insults" to the supreme leader, the great ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

She was also reportedly denied the right to a lawyer of her own choosing for her most recent trial. She was arrested again last June.

One of Sotoudeh's lawyers, Mahmud Behzadi-Rad said that the verdict had been handed down in absentia. "5 years of prison for the first case and 33 years of prison with 148 lashes, for the second case".

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Amnesty launched an online petition under the title "Free Nasrin Sotoudeh now", calling on the global community to pressure Iran into releasing Sotoudeh after "after two grossly unfair trials".

He told Aljazeera: "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 [headscarf] laws".

"Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women's rights and speaking out against the death penalty - it is utterly outrageous that Iran's authorities are punishing her for her human rights work".

In the letter, posted online by the Iranian Human Rights Activist News Agency, the signatories claim that the sentence is "a source of shame" and "shows a lack of tolerance in dealing with" lawyers "critical of the system".

"This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual".

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

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