The UK Government must acknowledge ill-treatment of a British charity worker jailed in Iran

REDRESS is today releasing a legal opinion drafted by senior counsel, that finds that imprisoned British charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been arbitrarily deprived of her liberty and has been subjected to grave violations of her human rights by Iran.The UK Government, who has received the legal opinion, has yet to acknowledge that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been the victim of serious violations of human rights or that she was targeted because of her dual nationality.

Last Friday, UN rights experts called on Iran to release Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is serving a five-year term in Tehran’s Evin Prison, but is now facing fresh charges for which she could face an additional 16-year sentence.

In the legal opinion, drafted by Professor John Dugard SC (associate tenant, Doughty Street Chambers), Alison Macdonald QC (Matrix Chambers) and Tatyana Eatwell (Doughty Street Chambers), the authors explain:

“We are of the view that it is clearly established on evidence that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is detained arbitrarily in Iran and has been subjected to a series of grave violations of her fundamental rights to a fair trial and to be treated humanely for the following reasons:

  1. There is no legal basis for her detention under domestic or international law.
  2. The conditions of her detention have fallen far below international standards; and
  3. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been denied the most basic guarantees required for a fair trial under international law.
  4. Moreover, there are strong grounds to suggest that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been targeted and discriminated against by the Revolutionary Guard because she is a dual national and a British citizen.”

The opinion additionally refers to findings by Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate Dr Shirin Ebadi that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s overall treatment, arrest, detention and trial involve multiple breaches of Iran’s own laws.

REDRESS is calling on the UK Government to acknowledge publicly that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s rights have been violated and that she has been targeted as a British national, and to call for her immediate release.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a 38-year-old British-Iranian mother, who has been arbitrarily detained for over eighteen months (569 days) since she was arrested at Tehran’s international airport as she was about to return to the UK from a family holiday with her young daughter Gabriella.

Following an unfair trial conducted in secret, Nazanin was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for unspecified national security crimes. She has spent over eight months in solitary confinement in appalling conditions that resulted in a severe deterioration of her mental and physical health. She was recently diagnosed with advanced depression.

“This acknowledgment is fundamentally important for Nazanin’s family and must frame the UK Government’s ongoing engagement in this sad and distressing case,” said Carla Ferstman, Director of REDRESS. “Her situation is at a critical point and she requires the UK Government’s full, immediate and unequivocal support.”

The UK Government has confirmed that it continues to raise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case alongside all dual national cases, including pressing for consular access and citing humanitarian reasons, with the Iranian authorities “at every available opportunity.”

But, it has not yet acknowledged that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was targeted for being a British national, despite the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention identifying an emerging pattern involving the deprivation of liberty of dual nationals in Iran.

Last week, the Prosecutor General in Tehran highlighted Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Britishness and alleged links to the UK Government, providing further evidence that she was targeted because of her dual nationality.

For more information or for an interview, please contact Eva Sanchis, REDRESS’ Head of Communications, on 020 7793 1777 or [email protected].

REDRESS is an international human rights organisation which seeks justice and reparation for survivors of torture and related international crimes.