Iran: Iran: Human rights defender Bahareh Hedayat must be freed, say UN and rights NGOs


Human rights defender Bahareh Hedayat has been held in Evin prison in Iran against international law after five years of detention relating to her highest sentence on the charge of “acting against national security and publishing falsehoods.” The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) adopted the submission of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, demanding Hedayat’s immediate release after her detention was ruled against international law on 26 May 2016. 

Hedayat’s arrest in December 2009 led to imprisonment sentences imposed by the Tehran Revolutionary court. The sentences comprised of two years for "insulting the Supreme Leader," six months for "insulting the President," five years for "acting against national security and publishing falsehoods," as well as an additional two years imprisonment (suspended) for "acting against national security through holding a protest gathering for women."

Having been in prison for more than five years now, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) points out that Hedayat has the right under Article 134 of Iran’s new Islamic Penal Code to be released after having served her longest sentence. Article 134 requires that prisoners charged with multiple crimes serve the sentence attributed to only their most serious offence. Her detention is also in contravention of articles 9, 10, 11, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9, 10, 14, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to the working group statement.

On 12 August 2015, the Appeals Court did issue a release order for Hedayat. However, judicial authorities insisted on imprisoning her for another two years, claiming that she will have to serve the suspended sentence given in May 2007, so she was never released. “According to Iranian law, this suspended sentence expired in 2012 under a five-year statute of limitation,” stated the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, which protests her unlawful detention and proclaims the need to release her immediately.

This detention of a woman human rights defender like Bahareh Hedayat, GCHR believes, silences human rights defenders and violates their right to freedom of expression, especially those standing up for national issues that are based on international human rights standards.

The GCHR strongly endorses the decision taken by the UN WGAD on Bahareh Hedayat’s ongoing detention and as such, calls on the Iranian Judiciary:

  1. To respect its rule of law and immediately and unconditionally release Bahareh Hedayat;
  2. To ensure the physical and psychological integrity and security of Bahareh Hedayat, which includes providing any necessary medical attention she might need;
  3. To enforce the new Islamic Penal Code and release all political prisoners who have served their time according to Article 134; and
  4. To guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Iran are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Photo Credit: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.