Iran must release Nasrin Sotoudeh, husband Reza Khandan tells the UN

On March 9 2021, during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Right Livelihood Foundation delivered a statement on behalf of Reza Khandan, husband of 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh, in which he calls for the release of his wife and all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Iran. 

At the onset, Mr. Javaid Rehman, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, presented his annual report, in which he remains concerned about the high number of arbitrarily detained individuals, who are at serious risk of contracting COVID and called for their immediate release. He also condemned the country’s continuing use of arbitrary charges to prolong the detention of activists, including 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh. The Special Rapporteur was also particularly alarmed at the continued harassment of Iranian Women Human Rights Defenders, many of whom remain arbitrarily imprisoned for peacefully protesting gender inequality and mandatory veiling. He urged the country to immediately introduce reforms to promote gender equality in law and practice. 

Speaking as the country concerned, Iran criticised the mandate and report of the Special Rapporteur, which is allegedly not representative of the situation of human rights in Iran. No mention was made concerning arbitrarily detained human rights activists. During the Interactive Dialogue, 29 member and observer states took the floor, including 2 joint statements. Most of them, including the European Union, the Nordic Countries, Canada and Israel expressed concerns about the continuous use of the death penalty, especially against juvenile offenders and protesters. Concerns were also raised over the perduring discrimination against women, which remains in law and practice. Numerous countries, including the EU, France and the US called for an end of systematic unjustified proceedings against human rights defenders and for the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh. 

During the Interactive Dialogue, the Foundation delivered a statement on behalf of Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, in which he brought the attention of the Council to her sentence and the following judicial harassment targeting their family. He called on the Council to stand up for Nasrin and all the other political prisoners languishing in prison for their activism by urging Iran to release them immediately and unconditionally. 

Read the full statement here.

In his interim and concluding remarks, the Special Rapporteur urged countries to bring up the human rights situation in their bilateral relations with Iran and invited the international community to share best practices on gender equality, to support Iran in improving its legislation and to urge Iran to ratify CEDAW.