Leading Iranian woman human rights lawyer sentenced to 38 years in prison

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced the human rights activist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh to serve 38 years in prison and 148 lashes on the charges of not wearing a hijab in public, spying, spreading information against Iran and insulting the country’s Supreme Leader.

Ms. Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan said on March 11, 2019 in a Facebook post, “Nasrin’s verdict was preached to her in her last case. 38 years of prison with 148 lashes are the result of two open cases. (She is sentenced for) 5 years of prison for the first case and 33 years of prison with 148 lashes, for the second case”.


Defender of human rights


Ms. Sotoudeh is a prominent human rights activist in Iran who dedicated her life to protecting and fighting for women’s rights in Iran. The 55-year old activist-cum-lawyer defended the women arrested for protesting against Iran’s archaic compulsory headscarf laws. She was also very critical of the death penalty laws in Iran.


Ms. Sotoudeh is the recipient of the 2018 Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights award and the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, presented by the European Parliament, among many other.


The cost of activism


Ms. Sotoudeh has been in prison since June 2018, serving a five-year sentence on the charges of “assembly and collusion against the state”.

The sentence this time is more than the maximum punishment a judge could give for the said charges under Iranian statutory laws. The draconian Article 134 of the Iranian penal law allows judges to use their discretion to impose a higher sentence than the maximum statutory requirement when a defendant faces more than three charges.

Ms. Sotoudeh was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to 11 years in prison, which was later reduced to six years. However, the lawyer and human rights activist was released after three years in 2013.


Human rights must be defended, not prosecuted


Amnesty International condemned the decision to incarcerate Ms. Sotoudeh and called for international support to urge Iran to uphold human rights and the rule of law.


“Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women’s rights and speaking out against the death penalty – it is utterly outrageous that Iran’s authorities are punishing her for her human rights work”, said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director, in a statement.



Human Rights Watch in a statement said “the Iranian judiciary’s draconian sentence for a prominent human rights lawyer is an appalling travesty of justice”.

All over the world, human rights activists and leaders have appealed to the Iranian government to release Ms. Sotoudeh.