Urgent Action Update: 38 Years and 148 Lashes for Women’s Rights Defender (Iran: UA 126.18)

March 14, 2019

Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes after two grossly unfair trials. The charges against her stem solely from her peaceful human rights work, including defending women’s rights and her outspoken opposition to the death penalty.



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Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
C/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN
Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28
1209 Geneva, Switzerland
H.E. Gholamali Khoshroo
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212 687-2020 I Fax: 212 867 7086
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Iran_UN
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Mr Khamenei,

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender, has been unjustly sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes following two grossly unfair trials. I appeal to you to release her as she is a prisoner of conscience.

On 9 February 2019, Nasrin Sotoudeh was informed by the office for the implementation of sentences in Tehran’s Evin prison, where she is jailed, that the verdict in her most recent court case had been issued. Some of the charges against her are related to her opposition to forced hijab (veiling) laws, including “inciting corruption and prostitution” and “openly committing a sinful act…by appearing in public without a hijab”. Some of her legitimate activities that the authorities have cited as “evidence” against her include: opposing Iran’s abusive, discriminatory and degrading forced hijab laws; removing her headscarf during prison visits; giving media interviews about the violent arrest and detention of women protesting against forced hijab. On 11 March 2019, Mohammad Moghiseh, the judge who pronounced the verdict, spread confusion by telling journalists that she had been sentenced to seven years in prison on two charges, one of which, “insulting the Supreme Leader”, she was not on trial for. In response, Nasrin Sotoudeh has asked lawyers in Iran to raise a complaint against the judge for spreading lies before the disciplinary court for judges.

In September 2016, Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to five years in prison in a separate case. She was not present during the trial because the court authorities said she was not wearing appropriate Islamic dress and refused her entry. She was charged with “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”. However, the judge, in breach of procedure, convicted her on another charge, that of “assisting in hiding spies with the intent to harm national security”, citing legitimate activities such as her meetings with foreign diplomats to convict her. This case is now pending review before an appeal court.

I urge you to release Nasrin Sotoudeh immediately and unconditionally as she is a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for her peaceful human rights work. Pending her release, please ensure that she has regular contact with her family and a lawyer of her choosing. I urge you to stop criminalizing the work of women’s rights defenders, including those who peacefully protest against forced hijab, and abolish forced hijab laws.

Yours sincerely