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UN Experts Welcome Iranian Human Rights Advocate's Release

Iran -- Iranian human rights activist, Narges Mohammadi (C), in front of Evin prison, undated.

United Nations human rights experts welcomed the release of long-imprisoned Iranian human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, calling for other activists' release.

According to a report published on the official website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) on October 7, the experts said Mohammadi's release came after a court reduced her sentence under a new law.

They also called the release of Mohammadi “a sign of hope."

"We are encouraged that the decision of the Iranian judiciary has led to Ms. Mohammadi's release after so many years in prison," the statement said, adding , "We hope that others who are currently detained arbitrarily -- human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, conservationists, prisoners of conscience and dual and foreign nationals -- will also be freed."

The Director-General of Justice Department in Zanjan province, Sadeq Niaraki, told the state-run ISNA news agency, "A court decided to release Ms. Mohammadi's sentence and released her according to a newly passed law."

Mohammadi served eight and a half years of her ten-year sentence behind bars before being released.

Mohammadi, sentenced to a total of sixteen years in prison on charges such as propaganda against the regime, campaigning for abolishing the death penalty, and conspiracy to commit a crime against national security, was transferred from Tehran's notorious Evin Prison to Zanjan Prison last December.

She contracted coronavirus in prison in mid-July and published letters complaining about the prison's health conditions and lack of medical care.

Referring to her release as "a step in the right direction," the UN independent experts noted they remained concerned that a previous conviction related to Mohammadi's human rights activities may still be active.

"All the charges against Ms. Mohammadi reportedly relate to her exercise of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly," the experts said. "We urge the Iranian judiciary to ensure the right to be tried before an independent and impartial tribunal, to expeditiously review any additional cases against Ms. Mohammadi, and to quash and annul existing convictions so as to allow her to freely continue her important work defending human rights without the fear of State harassment or arbitrary detention."

The report has also asserted that many others in Iran have been imprisoned solely for their human rights activities.

The UN human rights experts then expressed hope that the Iranian judiciary would soon release other human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, environmental activists, prisoners of conscience, and foreign nationals and dual nationals from Iranian prisons.

"We urge the Iranian authorities to also urgently review their cases, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its presence in Iran's prisons, and to immediately release all individuals who are being arbitrarily detained in violation of international human rights law," the experts concluded.