Imprisoned Human Rights Lawyer in Poor Health, Needs Hospitalization
New Law Reduces Derafshan’s Sentence By 6 Months, Must Still Serve Two Years
Sentence Reductions at Judge’s Discretion in “National Security” Cases
Imprisoned human rights attorney Payam Derafshan is in poor health and in need of hospitalization, his lawyer Saeed Dehghan informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on August 17, 2020.
Denial of proper medical care is routine in Iran’s prisons, especially in the case of political prisoners, including in “life-threatening situations” according to UN experts.
On June 8, 2020, Derafshan was arrested and on July 8 sentenced to 2.5 years in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court for “propaganda against the state,” “spreading falsehoods” and “unauthorized disclosure.” The sentence was upheld by the Appeals Court on July 23, 2020.
New Law Reduces Some Sentences
Dehghan told CHRI that while seeking a judicial review of the case by the Supreme Court, his client’s prison term has been reduced by six months based on a new law aimed at shortening incarcerations.
“After consultations with my colleague Mr. Abuzar Nasrollahi, we have decided that given the many legal problems in this case, the most important step right now is to seek a judicial review by the Supreme Court,” Dehghan told CHRI.
He added: “It’s important because he is in prison for a conviction based on the charge of spreading falsehoods in connection with the case concerning Fatemeh Khishavand — aka [social media celebrity] Sahar Tabar.
“Payam and I jointly represented her. He doesn’t deserve to be punished for ‘spreading falsehoods’ [about her health] because we have an official certificate that states she contracted the coronavirus. We are optimistic about the Supreme Court’s decision.
“At the same time, we invoked sections of the Islamic Penal Code as well as the new law for reducing imprisonments as a form of punishment, and succeeded in overturning his conviction on the charge of propaganda against the state, which reduced his final sentence to two years in prison.”
Regarding the new law, Dehghan said: “We are using this law in favor of many of our clients these days. It was proposed by legislators, including Mahmoud Sadeghi, as part of a wider five-year policy to reduce incarcerations.
New Law Applied at Judge’s Discretion for “Security Cases”
“There have been some shortcomings in drafting and enforcing this law but as a whole it has been an effective tool… On the other hand, the law has set conditions for cases involving political prisoners and prisoners of conscience — what the regime calls security cases. For instance, one of the requirements is the judge’s discretion, which in practice is problematic and obstructive.”
The Law for Reducing Imprisonment as Punishment was ratified by Parliament on May 12, 2020, and approved by Guardian Council on May 27.
Previously, in May 2020, Derafshan was sentenced to two years in prison for “insulting the supreme leader” and suspended from practicing law for an additional two years, in a trial in which he was denied access to counsel. On appeal, the prison sentence was reduced to one year and two months, and then suspended.
Derafshan has represented multiple individuals facing politically motivated charges including Iranian Canadian conservationist Kavous Seyed-Emami, who died in state custody while being held for interrogations in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
Over the last several years, Iran’s defense attorneys continue to be jailed after taking on politically sensitive cases and issues.
Click here for a current list of lawyers who’ve been sentenced to prison in Iran.
Read this article in Persian.