UN Human rights chief urges Iran to "create space" for human rights defendersListen /
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has welcomed the release earlier this week of 12 political prisoners in Iran and urged the Government to build on this positive step to end the harassment of human rights defenders.
Among those released was Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, an internationally recognized human rights activist and recipient of the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
She was serving a six-year sentence on charges of acting against national security.
Rupert Colvile is the spokesperson for the UN Human rights office in Geneva.
"Activists like Nasrin Sotoudeh can make a major contribution to improving the protection of human rights in Iran, and we urge the Government to build on this positive step by creating space for human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists by allowing them to exercise their professions without harassment or sanctions by the state. We also call upon the Government to remove any restrictions placed on Ms. Sotoudeh's travel and to rescind the ban on her practicing as a lawyer."
The High Commissioner also welcomed recent news that the death sentence imposed on the Iranian blogger Mr. Saeed Malekpour has been overturned and urged the Government to release all those held for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and association.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.