More Fear and Uncertainty for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may face more time in prison or under house arrest in Iran.
Following the removal of her ankle tag when she completed her five-year sentence for her first case last Sunday, Nazanin was required to attend court for a second case today, where she was tried for “spreading propaganda against the regime.”
She has been told that a verdict will be announced within seven working days. If convicted, she is likely to receive her sentence immediately following the verdict.
The second case was first introduced in 2017. It has been invoked inconsistently since that time, requiring her to attend several court hearings, but it has never reached a conviction or sentence.
Iran has never followed the rule of law in proceedings against Nazanin. Without proper legal processes, Nazanin is unable to effectively challenge the false allegations made against her and the outcome of the court hearings is entirely unpredictable.
Rupert Skilbeck, Director of REDRESS said:
“Following today’s trial, we have grave concerns that Nazanin could be returned to Evin prison or house arrest. This keeps her in a constant state of fear and uncertainty, and prolongs the severe psychological and physical suffering she has endured as a result of her torture and ill-treatment in Iran.”
“Nazanin has never received a fair trial in Iran, and is innocent of the allegations made against her. Her detention has always been illegal under international law. The charge must be dismissed and she must be allowed to return to the UK to be with her family.”
REDRESS has acted as legal representative for Nazanin and her husband Richard Ratcliffe and has campaigned for her release since 2016.
This month, REDRESS provided evidence to the FCDO of Nazanin’s severe physical and psychological suffering due to Iran’s treatment, confirming that she has been subject to torture. REDRESS also again raised her case with United Nations experts. The UN Special Rapporteur on Iran expressed concern about the new court case before the UN Human Rights Council last week.
Nazanin’s ongoing detention has previously been found to be illegal under both international and Iranian law. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in 2016 that her detention was arbitrary and requested Iran to release her, and a legal opinion commissioned by REDRESS in 2017 concluded that her detention was also illegal under Iranian law.
Nazanin was detained in Iran in 2016 on charges of crimes related to national security, which she did not commit, and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The Iranian authorities since charged her with a further offence of which she is innocent, of “spreading propaganda against the regime.” She has not been convicted or sentenced for the second set of charges.
After spending four years in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, in March 2020 Nazanin was placed under house arrest in Tehran with an ankle tag until her sentence ended on 7 March 2021. She has not seen her husband in five years, and has not been able to raise her daughter, who is now six years old.
Nazanin and her family have been told by Iranian authorities that she is being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran. The debt is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings before the UK courts.
Notes to editors:
- Nazanin is a British-Iranian charity worker who has been arbitrarily detained in Iran and separated from her husband and daughter for five years. During this time, she has spent more than eight months in solitary confinement and has been denied urgent medical treatment. She is now under house arrest in Iran with an ankle tag.
- REDRESS has campaigned for Nazanin’s release since 2016. Following a submission by REDRESS, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in 2016 that her detention was arbitrary and requested Iran to release her.
- Six United Nations Special Rapporteurs have previously stated that Nazanin’s treatment may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or torture, as prohibited under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. REDRESS considers that Iran’s treatment of Nazanin constitutes torture under Article 1 of the UN Convention Against Torture.
- In March 2019, following advocacy by REDRESS, the UK Government took the exceptional step of escalating the matter to an inter-state dispute with Iran, through granting Nazanin diplomatic protection.
- REDRESS’s work on Nazanin’s case is carried out in collaboration with Prof John Dugard SC, Alison Macdonald QC and Dr Tatyana Eatwell.