The UN yesterday called on Iran to immediately release human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and other political prisoners who have been excluded from a push to empty jails amid the pandemic.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation of rights activists, lawyers and political prisoners held in Iran as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
A system of temporary releases to reduce the populations in severely overcrowded prisons, introduced by Iran in February to rein in transmission of the virus, had benefitted some 120,000 inmates, although a number had since been required to return, her office said.
But people sentenced to more than five years behind bars for "national security" offences were excluded, it pointed out.
Such sentences are often handed to people "arbitrarily detained, including human rights defenders, lawyers, dual and foreign nationals, conservationists, and others deprived of their liberty for expressing their views or exercising other rights," it said.