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Iran's Judiciary Dismisses UN Experts' Demand To Furlough Political Prisoners

Iran's Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaili gives a press conference in Tehran, February 4, 2020
Iran's Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaili gives a press conference in Tehran, February 4, 2020

The Islamic Republic's Judiciary spokesman has dismissed as "politically motivated" a United Nations human rights report that all political prisoners must be granted furloughs during the coronavirus outbreak.

Iran’s performance in dealing with the issue — compared with that of the West — has been “exemplary”, Gholam Hossein Esmaili told reporters on Tuesday, April 21.

Giving the local Judiciary a 20 grade out of 20, Esmaili said, "Those marked zero, are not in a position to question the one who got a 20."

Iran's move to ensure the safety and health of prisoners and granting them leave was "exemplary among all systems of government", Esmaili reiterated.

Announcing that "more than a thousand foreign nationals" behind bars in Iran had gone on leave in recent days, Esmaili once again noted that the Islamic Republic Judiciary "does not recognize dual citizenship". There are several Iranians sentenced to prison who hold Western citizenship but Iran says if someone had Iranian citizenship, he is judged as an Iranian.

Earlier, the UN human rights experts had called for the immediate release of all foreigners and dual nationals imprisoned in Iran.

Furthermore, amid the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak, United Nations human rights experts had also called for the immediate release of thousands of political activists.

In a report released on Friday, April 17, the experts asserted that while Iran's Ministry of Health has officially stated that one person falls victim to COVID-19 every ten minutes in Iran, the Islamic Republic still holds many people in prisons.

The experts, including the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Situation in Iran, Javaid Rehman, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary and Unjust Executions, Agnes Callamard, asserted that the Islamic Republic should expand its temporary release of detainees to include prisoners of conscience, dual and foreign nationals who are still behind bars despite the serious risk of being infected with COVID-19.

According to UN experts, Iran's prisons have long been plagued by health problems.

Earlier, the head of the Judiciary, mid-ranking cleric, Ebrahim Raeesi, had ordered a temporary release of 100,000 inmates, including some prisoners of conscience.

Nonetheless, many political prisoners, as well as foreigners are still behind bars across Iran.