UN Body Calls for Immediate Release of Bahareh Hedayat
Imprisonment of Prominent Women and Human Rights Defender Is Against International Law, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Rules
June 14, 2016—The United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has issued an opinion on the case of the Iranian women’s rights activist and human rights defender, Bahareh Hedayat, demanding her immediate release. The opinion ruled Hedayat’s imprisonment since 2009 is arbitrary and against international law.
WGAD’s consideration and ruling of Hedayat’s case, adopted on April, 19, 2016 and released on May 26, 2016, comes in response to a submission to the WGAD by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Hedayat was given a brief furlough (temporary leave) from Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward on June 7, 2016, but was returned to prison less than a week later on June 13. The Campaign calls for her immediate release in light of the WGAD ruling.
“It is high time for this injustice to end. After almost seven years of unlawful imprisonment, the Iranian authorities should release her immediately,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s executive director.
The WGAD opinion noted that the Judicial proceedings against Hedayat were riddled with breaches of due process and international law.
“The deprivation of liberty of Bahareh Hedayat was arbitrary, being in contravention of articles 9, 10, 11, 19 and 20 of the UDHR [the Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and articles 9, 10, 14, 19 and 21 of the ICCPR [the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights], and falls within categories I, II and III of the categories applicable to the consideration of cases submitted to the Working Group,” it stated.
WGAD also expressed serious concern for Hedayat’s health, stating: “… the Working Group wishes to record its grave concern about Ms. Hedayat’s deteriorating health since her detention in December 2009, particularly the allegations made by the source that she has not been provided with adequate medical care and that this may result in irreparable harm to her health and leave her permanently sterile.”
The WGAD ruling concludes by calling for her immediate release: “Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, especially the risk of irreparable harm to Ms. Hedayat’s health and physical integrity, the Working Group considers that the adequate remedy would be to release Ms. Hedayat immediately, and accord her an enforceable.”
WGAD also noted that it communicated its concerns to the Government of Iran and requested it response, but the Government of Iran did not provide a reply within the standard response time required.
Agents of the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Hedayat on December 30, 2009. On May 5, 2010, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Hedayat to a total of 7.5 years of imprisonment for the following three charges:
- Six months of imprisonment for “insulting the President,”
- Two years of imprisonment for “insulting the Leader,” and
- Five years of imprisonment for “acting against national security and
In July 2010, the Appeals Court upheld Hedayat’s sentence. According to Article 134 of the Iranian Penal Code, a prisoner sentenced under multiple charges should serve no more than the maximum sentence for the charge carrying the heaviest sentence. In Hedayat’s case, the application of Article 134 meant that she should be released after five years relating to her charge of “acting against national security and publishing falsehoods.”
Accordingly, on August 12, 2015, the Appeals Court issued a release order for Hedayat. Yet she was never released and the judicial authorities insisted on imprisoning her for another two years, claiming that she should serve a suspended sentence of two years issued against her in May 2007. According to Iranian law, this suspended sentence expired in 2012 under a five-year statute of limitation.
Hedayat is held at Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward, which is used exclusively for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
The Campaign will be publishing an in-depth report on this ward next week, titled Inside the Women’s Ward: Mistreatment of Women Political Prisoners at Iran’s Evin Prison. The report, based on exclusive and detailed first hand testimonies, reveals the inhumane and unlawful conditions the women political prisoners suffer there.
“Iran must cease criminalizing peaceful dissent. It can begin with the immediate release, after almost seven years behind bars, of the unjustly imprisoned human rights defender Bahareh Hedayat,” said Hadi Ghaemi.