“Show Trials” of Dual Nationals Will Continue Until P5+1 Creates United Front Against Hostage-Taking
April 27, 2021 – World powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program should present a joint stance against Iran’s cruel and unlawful practice of jailing dual nationals to use as bargaining chips, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) urged ahead of more show trials of dual nationals scheduled for April 28, 2021.
“No government should be allowed to play with human lives as political pawns, yet that’s what the Iranian government has been doing with dual nationals for years,” said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.
“It’s long past due for countries that have hostages in Iran to create a united front to free their citizens and stop Iran’s hostage-taking once and for all,” he added.
At least 15 dual nationals and one foreign national were known to be imprisoned in Iran as of April 2021, according to CHRI, after trials completely failing to adhere to international standards of due process.
“The 15 cases we cite on our website are only those that have been made public,” said Ghaemi. “The Iranian authorities pressure families to keep their cases secret with false promises of a quicker release.”
“More will be unlawfully jailed for as long as the international community fails to respond in a manner that communicates clearly to Iranian officials that they cannot have normalized relations with the international community if this practice continues,” he added.
An Iranian revolutionary court’s decision to stage a show trial of three dual nationals in late April, amid ongoing talks over Iran’s nuclear program, is a clear indication that the Iranian government is using the individuals as political leverage—and that it fears little negative repercussions for convicting more individuals on sham charges.
On April 26, 2021, five years after Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first detained in Iran on trumped-up espionage charges, a court sentenced the British-Iranian charity worker and mother of a young daughter to an additional year in prison and banned her from leaving the country for another year.
Two days later, British-Iranian labor activist Mehran Raoof and German-Iranian retired architect Nahid Taghavi will face the same court system.
Iran justifies its practice of detaining dual nationals without consular access by claiming that it does not recognize dual nationality. All detained dual nationals in the country have had their passports confiscated and are prohibited from leaving Iran.
All of the known imprisoned dual nationals in Iran have also been denied due process in their prosecutions and, for those who have been convicted, subjected to trials that do not adhere in any way to international fair trial standards.
Many have also been forced to make false “confessions” through torture or other means of ill-treatment.
At a social media discussion on April 21, 2021, amid ongoing talks in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh articulated the ministry’s desire to use the nationals as bargaining chips by declaring that his country was willing to swap the dual nationals in an “all for all” prisoner exchange.
“The kangaroo court ruling against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe once again reveals the true nature of the charges against her: fabricated, politically motivated and inhuman,” said Ghaemi.
“The rulings against these dual nationals also reveal the nature of the judicial system in Iran: unlawful, cruel and subservient to the political dictates of the intelligence and security agencies,” he added.