UN Working Groups tells Iran ‘Release Kiarash Kamrani’: Will Officials Ignore the High-Ranking Body?
On 8 June 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that Kiarash Kamrani’s detention in Iran is “arbitrary detention.” The Working Group urged the Iranian government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation, including the immediate release of Kamrani and adequate reparation to him.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is a UN-mandated body of experts that investigates cases of arbitrary arrest and detention that may be in violation of international human rights law. It is effectively the highest international authority on the laws of detention. The Working Group is also empowered to receive and make official findings on the legality of detentions in individual cases.
The Working Group’s opinion on Kamrani’s case provides an authoritative and independent determination that Iran’s imprisonment of Kamrani violates the law.
Kamrani was a student at Payam-e Noor University in Tehran who took part in the protest over the 2009 presidential elections. While participating in the protests, Kamrani was arrested by Basij forces and taken to an undisclosed location where he was held incommunicado in solitary confinement and subjected to severe physical abuse.
Authorities told Kamrani that he had no right to talk to a lawyer. He was allowed one call to his family and was interrogated for 10-12 hours each day. He was placed back in solitary confinement for another 20 days. Kamrani’s family engaged a lawyer for him, who never conferred with him, and was prevented from appearing in court on his behalf.
On 27 February 2010, the Court sentenced Kamrani to six years in prison and a monetary sanction of $400 for “propaganda against the state,” “insulting Iranian officials,”, and “assembly and collusion to commit a crime.”
In response to the Working Group’s concerns regarding Kamrani’s detention, the Iranian government avoided substantively addressing the issue. Instead, the government simply listed the charges for which Kamrani was arrested and summarized the judgments and sentences imposed by the lower court and the Court of Appeal. The Working Group criticized Iranians shallow effort to cooperate saying that, “[a] mere listing up of the judgments and other decisions is not sufficient to excuse the human rights contradiction with the detention.”
The Iranian government has a track record of evading serious cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms, typically rejecting all allegations and reciting Iranian laws on the matter. For example, during Iran’s 2009 Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council, Iran denied it practices widespread torture and cited the Constitution’s prohibition on the practice as a rebuttal. However, the Iranian government has repeatedly failed to address the fact that many of its actual practices and criminal laws violate international law.
The Working Group’s final determination was based on a finding that Kamrani’s detention resulted from the exercise of his free expression and association rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Working Group also found that authorities failed to observe international norms relating to the right to a fair trial by holding Kamrani in incommunicado solitary confinement for an extended period, not promptly informing of him of his charges, not promptly presenting him to a judge, denying him legal counsel, and subjecting him to inhumane treatment.
The Working Group reminded the Iranian government of its “duties to comply with international human rights obligations not to detain arbitrarily, to release persons who are arbitrarily detained, and to provide compensation to them. The duty to comply with international human rights rests… on all officials… including judges, police and security officers, and prison officers with relevant responsibilities. No person can contribute to human rights violations.”
The Campaign has documented hundreds of cases of illegal arbitrary detentions by the Iranian government following the 2009 presidential election, including dissident journalist Issa Saharkhriz, who in 2010 the Working Group also determined was illegally detained.
The Campaign calls upon the Iran to immediately release Kamrani and Saharkhiz.