Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband and daughter

No End in Sight to Nazanin’s Suffering Five Years After Her Arrest in Iran

Five years to the day since the arrest of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iran continues to hold her hostage and refuses to allow her to reunite with her husband and daughter in the UK. 

Despite having officially completed her sentence on the 7th March 2021, Iran has not returned Nazanin’s British passport and it is unclear when a verdict will be handed down for a second case that was raised against her on 14th March, for which she was told she would receive a sentence within seven working days. 

Following the completion of her five-year sentence for her first case on the 7th of March, Nazanin was required to attend court for a second case on 14th March, where she was tried for “spreading propaganda against the regime. This second case has been invoked inconsistently by Iranian authorities since 2017, requiring her to attend several court hearings, but it has never reached a conviction or sentence.  

As 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 this second case is entirely unpredictable.  

Rupert Skilbeck, Director of REDRESS said:

“Nazanin has not seen her husband in five years, and has not been able to raise her daughter, who is now six years old. Iran must stop using an innocent mother as a political pawn and allowed her to return home to her family. Keeping her in a constant state of fear and uncertainty only serves to prolong the severe psychological and physical suffering she has already endured as a result of her torture and ill-treatment in Iran.”

REDRESS has acted as legal representatives for Nazanin and her husband Richard Ratcliffe since 2016. Last month, REDRESS provided evidence to the FCDO of Nazanin’s severe physical and psychological suffering due to her treatment by the Iranian government, confirming that she has been subjected to torture. REDRESS also raised her case with United Nations experts once again 

Nazanin’s ongoing detention has previously been found to be illegal under both international and Iranian law. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted 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 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:  

  1. Nazanin is a British-Iranian charity worker who has been arbitrarily detained in Iran and separated from her husband and daughter for five years.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.During this time, she has spent more than eight months in solitary confinement and has been denied urgent medical treatment.  
  2. 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 Covenanton Civil and Political Rights. REDRESS considers that Iran’s treatment of Nazanin constitutes torture under Article 1 of the UN Convention Against Torture. 
  3. 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. 
  4. REDRESS’s work on Nazanin’s case is carried out in collaboration with Prof JohnDugard SC, Alison Macdonald QC, Dr Tatyana Eatwell and Tayyiba Bajwa.