UN experts urge Iranian govt. to release ailing jailed dissident


UN human rights experts on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the condition of imprisoned Iranian filmmaker and political activist Mohammad Nourizad and called for his immediate release.

Nourizad ‘s health has reportedly deteriorated so severely that he risks serious complications and possible death if he remains in prison and does not receive appropriate medical care.

“We are seriously concerned at the mistreatment of Mohammad Nourizad and his continued imprisonment for expressing his opinion,” the experts said.

“Furthermore, his continued detention despite medical professionals finding he cannot stay in prison given his serious health condition, and the resulting denial of adequate medical care, may amount to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The rights experts also noted that Nourizad’s “case is emblematic of the situation many Iranian political activists face in detention”.

In February 2020, Mr. Nourizad received multiple sentences, including a seven-and-a-half year prison term, after being convicted on charges relating to an open letter he and others signed calling for the Supreme Leader’s resignation and for constitutional changes.

While in detention, Mr. Nourizad carried out hunger strikes and refused to take medications, most recently starting March 10, to protest against his imprisonment and his family’s mistreatment by authorities. He also reportedly attempted suicide in prison, and began to self-harm as a form of protest on February 19.

The experts previously raised concerns with the Iranian Government about Mr. Nourizad detention as well as access to medical care, according to the news release. The Government sent comments in response to the concerns raised.

According to the news release, Mr. Nourizad was diagnosed with a heart condition while in detention and frequently lost consciousness.

Last month, he was transferred to a hospital in capital Tehran, after fainting. When he regained consciousness, he found someone injecting him with an unknown substance, which he did not consent to or was informed of.

“It is clear that Mr. Nourizad is not in a medical state to remain in prison,” the experts said, noting also that Legal Medical Organization of the Iranian judiciary and other medical professionals reportedly found that he should be released on medical grounds.

“The Iranian authorities must release him immediately in line with these medical opinions and give him free access to the required medical care and treatment.”

The experts also said that many individuals in Iran are detained for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression. They reminded the Government that detention on such a basis is a clear violation of several of the country’s human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“We remain extremely disturbed by continued reports of detainees, including those imprisoned for exercising their human rights, being denied or unnecessarily obstructed from receiving adequate medical treatment or care,” the experts added.

“In extreme cases the denial of adequate treatment has resulted in death. The Iranian Government and judiciary has an obligation to ensure that all detainees receive proper treatment as prescribed not only under domestic law, but also under its international human rights obligations and the Nelson Mandela Rules on the minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners.” (Source: UN News)