Alessandra Moretti, Elisabetta Gualmini, Patrizia Toia: Release of Narges Mohammadi and the impact of Covid-19 on Iranian prisoners
To: High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell
Brussels, 16 July 2020
Dear High Representative/Vice President
The month of June there has been a significant increase in the number of corona cases in cities across Iran, and particularly in prisons. The country has been hit hard by COVID-19, with Health Ministry officials reporting one person dying every 10 minutes from the virus.
The situation of prisoners is much worse than that of most other people, as they are more vulnerable to the disease. Overcrowding makes them susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and other diseases and the lack of medical facilities, the lack of quarantine space for new inmates and the lack of testing have caused the coronavirus to spread.
Female prisoners are under double pressure due to awful conditions in prisons, shortage of hygiene products and scarce access to medicine, healthcare and medical treatment.
In a letter from Zanjan prison, where she is detained for directing a campaign for the abolition of the death penalty and denouncing a wave of acid attacks against women, human rights activist Narges Mohammadi reports that several women have developed dangerous symptoms of the COVID-19 disease. Ms. Mohammadi and six other prisoners have developed numbness, weakness, bone pain and have totally lost their sense of smell for more than a week. She and other 11 women convicted in Zanjan prison present strong symptoms but do not receive any medical assistance. Besides that, for almost a year Ms. Mohammadi has also been forbidden to have any telephone contact with her children.
The experts commended the reported temporary release of 100,000 prisoners, following a 26 February 2020 order by the head of judiciary. However, most prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, conservationists and dual and foreign nationals remain imprisoned.
Considering the above mentioned, we ask you to intercede with Iranian authorities to respect prisoners’ rights and to implement measures consistent with their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right of persons deprived of their liberty to be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent dignity, and the right to life.
Moreover, we ask you to intercede with Iranian authorities to expedite the independent and impartial review of all cases of suspected arbitrary detention and to immediately and permanently release all individuals found to be arbitrarily deprived of their liberty. In particular, we would like you to ask for the release of Narges Mohammadi, already called for by the European Parliament in its resolution of 19 September 2019.
Alessandra Moretti, Elisabetta Gualmini, Patrizia ToialettertoBorrell.pdf (79 KB)