Foreign Minister Støre concerned about the situation for human rights defenders in Iran

“The rulings against Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh show that the situation for human rights defenders in Iran has become much worse,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for acting against national security, and has also been banned for 20 years from working as a lawyer and from leaving Iran. Ms Sotoudeh has been detained since September, and her state of health has deteriorated markedly following repeated hunger strikes. In her work as a lawyer, she has in particular defended juveniles facing the death penalty, and she has also defended Shirin Ebadi.

Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has been ordered to pay tax on the Nobel Peace Prize that she received in 2003, as well as punitive damages, totalling more than NOK 7 million. According to Ms Ebadi, this amounts to more than the value of all her assets put together, and in practice it will therefore make it impossible for her to return to her home country.

The rulings against Ms Sotoudeh and Ms Ebadi follow a pattern of ever-increasing persecution of human rights defenders in Iran. A number of lawyers have been detained recently, and it is currently difficult to work in the field of human rights in Iran. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has followed the cases of both Ms Sotoudeh and Ms Ebadi for a long time, not least through the Norwegian Embassy in Teheran, and it will continue to do so.

“People like Ms Sotoudeh and Ms Ebadi play a crucial role in defending human rights. I urge the Iranian authorities in the strongest possible terms to ensure that lawyers and human rights defenders are able to carry out their work in accordance with Iranian law and international conventions,” Foreign Minister Støre stressed.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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