Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her daugher Gabriella

REDRESS Requests UN Action on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Case

Today, REDRESS has written to UN experts requesting them to issue a public statement in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, following the conclusion of her second trial on Sunday.

The request was made in collaboration with Dr Tatyana Eatwell, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, who has provided pro-bono legal support to REDRESS on Nazanin’s case. It was addressed to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

The request suggests that a strong statement of concern and public condemnation of Iran’s treatment of Nazanin will help to protect her from further ill-treatment and abuse, and will:

“provide meaningful support to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other victims of arbitrary detention, helping to break their seclusion and giving them confidence in the knowledge that the international community is protecting them.”

REDRESS requested that the UN experts recognise the denial of Nazanin’s right to a fair trial, to be free from torture and ill-treatment, and to be free from arbitrary detention. It further asks them to acknowledge that she is being detained by Iran for the purpose of obtaining diplomatic leverage over the UK, and to express their serious concern for her physical and mental wellbeing.

Following the completion of her five-year sentence on 7 March 2021, Nazanin was summoned to court on Sunday 14 March in relation to a second case for “spreading propaganda against the regime,” which was first introduced in 2017. The trial, which is not supported by evidence, was concluded on Sunday, and Nazanin was told she would receive the verdict within seven working days.

Rupert Skilbeck, Director of REDRESS, said:

“Intervention by the United Nations is critical to protecting victims of human rights abuses. We call on the UN experts to publicly condemn Nazanin’s treatment, and demonstrate to Iran that the international community is watching.”

Dr Tatyana Eatwell, barrister at Doughty St Chambers, said:

“It is a matter of grave concern that Nazanin now faces the possibility of a further term of arbitrary detention, with the prospect of her eventual release based not on the length of her sentence, but on the will of those responsible for her cruel treatment.”

“Nazanin has already been subjected to a lengthy period of arbitrary detention and ill-treatment amounting to torture. The severe consequences of this treatment are now exacerbated by the continued uncertainty surrounding her fate.”

Following a submission by REDRESS, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in 2016 that Nazanin’s detention was arbitrary, requested her release, and referred the case to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. In 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and five other UN experts 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.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Iran expressed concern about the new court case before the UN Human Rights Council last week.

REDRESS also provided a medico-legal report to the UK FCDO last week of Nazanin’s severe physical and psychological suffering due to Iran’s treatment, confirming that she has been subjected to torture.

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”.

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.

REDRESS has been acting as the legal representatives of Nazanin and her husband Richard Ratcliffe, before the UN and the UK FCDO, since 2016.

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. During this time, she has spent more than eight months in solitary confinement and has been denied urgent medical treatment.
  2. 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.
  3. REDRESS’s work on Nazanin’s case is carried out in collaboration with Prof John Dugard SC, Alison Macdonald QC, Dr Tatyana Eatwell and Tayyiba Bajwa.

Photo credit: Free Nazanin Campaign.