Prominent Human Rights Defender Sentenced to 10-years in Prison
His Only “Crime”: Reporting Human Rights Violations
(28 October 2008) The Iranian Judiciary should immediately repeal an 10-year prison sentence for Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, a well-known human rights defender, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
Kaboudvand, the founder of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK), is being prosecuted solely for his human rights advocacy and documentation. He has been in custody since June 2007 and suffers from several medical complications.On 25 October 2008, his lawyer, Nasrin Setoodeh, was notified that an appeals court had confirmed his 10-year prison sentence. He is charged with “acting against national security by establishing HROK,” “widespread propaganda against the system by disseminating news,” “opposing Islamic penal laws by publicizing punishments such as stoning and executions,” and “advocating on behalf of political prisoners.”
According to his lawyer, evidence cited in court was focused on the establishment of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan in 2005, communicating human rights violations to United Nations agencies and writing to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
“There is no legal justification for Kaboudvand’s prosecution and sentencing. The Iranian Judiciary is telling the world, loud and clear, that human rights advocacy in Iran is punishable by heavy sentences,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “Kaboudvand has committed no crime, but has advocated for and promoted human rights for the people of Iran.”
Setoodeh told Persian-language media, “I haven’t seen such a severe sentence for a human rights defender before. This sentence is alarming for all human rights defenders in Iran.”
Kaboudvand has been subjected to lengthy periods of solitary confinement during his over 16-month detention. He has been allowed to see his family only on one occasion for 20 minutes. The protests of his family on his behalf have been met with threats and slander. He is reportedly in poor health, which has been exacerbated by prison conditions.
The Campaign called on the Iranian government to immediately release Kaboudvand, noting that this year is the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Under Article 6 of the Declaration, human rights defenders have the right to impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The government of Iran has an affirmative obligation to protect Kaboudvand and other rights advocates. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus in 1998, declares that states “shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of [human rights defenders] against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary actions” as a consequence of their legitimate effort to promote human rights.