On April 17, rapporteurs and human rights experts of the United Nations called on the Iranian regime to immediately release the prisoners of conscience, dual and foreign nationals at risk of COVID-19.
The signatories were:
- Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
- Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health
- Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
- Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
- David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
- José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Chair of Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
- Leigh Toomey, Vice-Chair on Communications of Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
- Elina Steinerte, Vice-Chair on Follow-up of Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
- Seong-Phil Hong, member of Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
- Sètondji Adjovi, member of Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
- David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
- Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
- Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
To show dangerous conditions in Iran, the UN experts highlighted reports by Health Ministry officials, saying, “One person dies every 10 minutes from the virus.”
“Most prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, conservationists, and dual and foreign nationals remain imprisoned. Some are at great risk from COVID-19 due to their age or underlying health conditions. We call on the authorities to immediately release them,” they wrote.
“Iran’s prisons have long-standing hygiene, overcrowding, and healthcare problems. We urge the Iranian authorities 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, UN experts emphasized in their call,” the statement reads.
On April 9, Amnesty International expressed concern over the state security forces’ use of lethal measures to control prisoners’ protests amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Iranian jails. “In recent days, thousands of prisoners in at least eight prisons around the country have staged protests over fears of contracting the coronavirus,” Amnesty stated.
It also mentioned that the regime’s security forces and prison guards used live ammunition and tear gas, which resulted in the death of around 35 prisoners and injury of hundreds of others.
“It is abhorrent that instead of responding to prisoners’ legitimate demands to be protected from COVID-19, Iranian authorities have yet again resorted to killing people to silence their concerns,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director of the Middle East and North Africa.
On April 11, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) acknowledged the “Coronavirus Infection of Prisoners in Fashafouyeh and Evin Prisons.”
“So far, many prisoners in Tehran and other cities have contracted corona, and several of them have died. At a time when there is not the least amount of hygiene facilities in regime’s prisons, and the prisons have been overcrowded many times their capacity,” the NCRI stated.