CODIR statement on the re-sentencing of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

17th October 2021

The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR) condemns unequivocally the re-imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe following the rejection of her recent appeal by the judicial authorities in Iran.

Having already served a five-year sentence for allegations of spying and leading a “foreign-linked hostile network”, Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was given an additional year in prison to be followed by a further year’s ban on leaving the country, on charges of “spreading propaganda”, effectively extending her punishment by at least two years.

Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent the past year under house arrest, on parole at her parent’s home in Tehran.  It is understood that her appeal was rejected without even a court hearing having taken place.

CODIR has spent many years campaigning for the right to freedom of expression and an end to imprisonment on political grounds in Iran.  We have consistently pointed out that the courts system, far from fulfilling its role as an independent adjudicator, is an integral part of the political machinery of the Islamic Republic.

Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, as with the other several Iranians holding dual nationality currently imprisoned in the country, is in effect being held in a hostage-like situation as part of a much wider picture involving the Islamic Republic’s relations with the West.

The Islamic Republic regime is determined to recoup the circa £400m paid to the UK government for a tank order in the 1970s – the contract for which was not honoured following the Iranian Revolution in 1979. 

It is clear that Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being used as a pawn in a grand political standoff in which neither party – neither the government of Iran nor that of the UK – come out well.  The Islamic Republic is acting outside the norms of international law in holding Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe hostage until the debt is repaid.  However, the UK government equally cannot legitimately withhold this £400m payment indefinitely.

Whatever crimes the Islamic Republic alleges that Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has committed, she has now served the very sentence originally issued to her by the judicial authorities and has endured extended periods without access to her infant daughter – now living in London with her father.

It is well known that the judiciary in Iran do not preside impartially over the cases put before them, and prosecutions are overtly directed by the theocratic regime.  Court proceedings and the level of provision afforded to those being tried in order to defend themselves in Iran, fall well short of even basic international norms and standards.  Charges are tabled and sentences crafted arbitrarily and outside of any recognisable bona fide legal framework, usually on the whims of higher authorities within the dictatorship.  

The UK government must step up its diplomatic efforts to free Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe while at the same time making concrete steps towards the reaching of an amicable and negotiated settlement over the issue of the money owed to Iran.

CODIR will continue to support every effort to free Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe as well as continuing its campaign for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, and for peace and social justice for the long-suffering people of Iran.

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