Release imprisoned human rights lawyers amidst COVID-19 crisis in Iran
In view of serious threats to life and health, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawyers for Lawyers calls upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release all human rights lawyers unjustly jailed in Iran, including Nasrin Sotoudeh and Amir Salar Davoodi.
COVID-19 is causing a breakdown in Iran. The country is dealing with one of the biggest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the world. In multiple prisons, prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19, as has been reported by Amnesty International. Overcrowding and unsanitary and unhygienic prison conditions put prisoners at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. In response, Iran has temporary released around 85,000 prisoners to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, all jailed human rights lawyers remain in prison. This is worrisome since the recent developments also have big consequences for the life and health of detained lawyers.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged governments and authorities to work to quickly reduce the number of people in detention. She noted, “Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views’’.
On 16 March 2020, Nasrin Sotoudeh and other female prisoners started a hunger strike in Evin prison to demand the release of political prisoners amid Iran’s COVID-19 crisis.
Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the news that human rights lawyer Mohammad Najafi has been temporarily released on furlough. However, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Amir Salar Davoodi still remain in prison. Lawyers for Lawyers therefore urges the Iranian authorities to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by releasing all other imprisoned human rights lawyers. Lawyers for Lawyers has grave concerns about the situation of lawyers in Iran and urges the Iranian authorities to ensure that all lawyers in Iran can carry out their professional duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
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