The Iranian regime has increasingly focused on clamping down on anyone who speaks out against the human rights abuses of its ruling class. One of the key areas where this is demonstrated is in the trials of these individuals. Many lack basic legal representation, and the proceedings are brief. If they do have legal representation, there are often hurdles for them to meet with their lawyers and having access to court files delayed.
Human rights lawyers who speak out against torture and unfair trials have also faced harassment, disbarment, and imprisonment. Trials of human rights defenders generally take place in a climate of fear.
Amnesty International recently launched a global campaign ‘Brave’, calling for an end to attacks against those defending human rights worldwide.
“It is a bitter irony that as the Iranian authorities boast about their increased engagement with the UN and the EU, particularly in the aftermath of the nuclear deal, human rights defenders who have made contact with these same institutions are being treated as criminals,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Rather than propagating the dangerous myth that human rights defenders pose a threat to national security, the Iranian authorities should focus on addressing the legitimate concerns they raise. These are people who have risked everything to build a more humane and just society – it is appalling that they are so viciously punished for their bravery.”
Amnesty International, who released a new report entitled ‘Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack’, is calling on the EU to speak out in the strongest terms against the persecution of human rights defenders in the country.
“The international community, and in particular the EU, must not stay silent over the outrageous treatment of human rights defenders in Iran,” said Luther. “Instead of appeasing Iranian officials, the EU should forcefully call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those jailed for their peaceful human rights activism and for an end to the misuse of the justice system to silence activists.”
This recent report detailed the crackdown on human rights defenders in a variety of key areas, including the death penalty, women’s rights, and trade unionists, just to name a few.
Over the past four years, Iran’s judiciary have dropped the threshold for invoking the vague national security-related charges, while increasing the length of prison sentences for these individuals. Many of their crimes include contacting the UN and the EU, as well as international agencies focused on human rights.