Iran Urged to Overturn Sentences Against Women Activists
20 May 2008
International has written to the Head of the Judiciary in Iran, urging him to
ensure that appeals hearings against the convictions and sentences of six
women’s rights defenders (WRDs) passed in recent weeks in connection with their
peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association are
heard promptly and impartially.
If the sentences are confirmed at appeal, the organization is calling on the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, to review the cases and to overturn the convictions of the women, all of whom will become prisoners of conscience if imprisoned.
Amnesty International also asked the Head of the Judiciary to ensure that all women’s rights defenders were free to leave and return to the country, in accordance with Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party.
All the sentences are suspended, but could be implemented if the women are convicted of a similar offence during the period of suspension. If any of them were to be imprisoned in the future as a result of these sentences, Amnesty International would call for their immediate and unconditional release as prisoners of conscience.
The organisation also urged the Head of the Judiciary to ensure that the flogging sentences imposed on the women are not implemented under any circumstances. Flogging is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which amounts to torture, and is outlawed under Article 7 of the ICCPR.
The six women received suspended sentences between February and May 2008, in connection with their participation in a peaceful gathering on 4 March 2007 outside a court where five women’s rights activists were on trial for their involvement in an earlier demonstration in June 2006 demanding an end to discriminatory legislation. Thirty-three women in total were arrested at that time. All have been prosecuted under vaguely-worded laws on “security offences”. At least 12 others have been acquitted of all charges in connection with the March 2007 demonstration.
International is calling on the Head of the Judiciary to overturn any
convictions that may be confirmed in appeal hearings against the six women’s
rights defenders found guilty in recent weeks in connection with the peaceful
exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association while
demanding an end to discriminatory legislation in Iran.
Amnesty is also urging the Head of the Judiciary to suspend immediately all sentences of flogging, including any imposed in connection with peaceful activities on behalf of women’s rights, and lift the travel ban imposed on Parvin Ardalan and any other women’s rights defenders who may be prevented from travelling abroad and return freely to Iran.