Iranian human rights lawyer sentenced to 38 years in prison, 148 lashes

Iranian human rights lawyer sentenced to 38 years in prison, 148 lashes

On the day the United Nations made the announcement, Iran sentenced Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, to an extra 10 years in jail on top of the five-year term she is already serving for defending protesters against the Islamic Republic's mandatory hijab laws.

Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, earlier this week said that she will have to serve an extra 10-years in prison - the longest sentence of the seven verdicts - on top of a five-year term she is now serving. She said the Norwegian government and Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide must do all they can to support Sotoudeh, who has been held as a political prisoner in Iran on several earlier charges.

The U.S. State Department on March 12 condemned the new prison sentences imposed on Sotoudeh "in the strongest possible terms".

The experts also expressed deep concern that Ms. Sotoudeh had not received a fair trial. Before her detention, last June she defended a group of women imprisoned for appearing in public without the mandatory veil, a legacy norm of the 1979 Islamic revolution and punishable by prison under the penal code. She was also sentenced to 148 lashes, he said. Instead, she was apparently asked to choose from a list of lawyers pre-approved by the Iranian judiciary.

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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".

The Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the worst human rights abusers in the world and top state sponsor of worldwide terrorism, has been appointed a seat on the United Nations' Women's Rights Committee, Hillel Neuer of the watchdog group UN Watch reported Wednesday.

The European Commission has called for an immediate review of Sotoudeh's case, saying that her trial featured "a number of other violations of the right to due process". Her deprivation of liberty was therefore found by the Working Group to have been arbitrary**. "(2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a effect of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration". "We urge the Iranian authorities to release all lawyers arbitrarily detained for their work defending the legal and human rights of Iranians, and to allow lawyers to undertake their work free from fear of arrest or intimidation by the state", the experts said.

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".

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