Iran clamps down on journalists and human rights defenders

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Rupert Colville, UN Human Rights spokesperson

Several prominent human rights defenders, journalists and political activists have been arrested and detained in Iran in what the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) says is a severe clamp down on critical voices in the country.

Among those arrested is Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, from the Centre for Human Rights Defenders.

Mr. Dadkhah has been detained to start a nine-year jail sentence previously imposed on him after he was charged with being a member of an association seeking to overthrow the government.

The Reuters bureau chief in Iran, Ms. Parisa Hafezi, has also been arrested and charged with spreading lies and propaganda.

Rupert Colville from the UN Human Rights Office says the ongoing arrest intimidation of human rights defenders and media organizations is deeply worrying, especially coming in the run-up to next years Presidential elections.

"Lawyers, human rights defenders and independent media make a key contribution in democratic societies and must be allowed to carry out their work without facing intimidation, harassment, arrest and prosecution. The arrests and harsh sentences imposed on such figures reflect a disturbing trend apparently aimed at curbing freedom of expression, opinion and association, which are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a State party. OHCHR urges the Government of Iran to promptly release all those who have been arrested for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights." 

(Duration: 35″)

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