Geneva, May 4, 2021.- UN human rights experts* today expressed serious concern over the condition of imprisoned Iranian filmmaker and political activist Mohammad Nourizad and called for his immediate release. His health has reportedly deteriorated so severely that he risks serious complications and possible death if he remains in prison and does not receive appropriate medical care.
“We are seriously concerned at the mistreatment of Mohammad Nourizad and his continued imprisonment for expressing his opinion,” the experts said. “Furthermore, his continued detention despite medical professionals finding he cannot stay in prison given his serious health condition, and the resulting denial of adequate medical care, may amount to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
“His case is emblematic of the situation many Iranian political activists face in detention. He must be immediately released.”
In February 2020, Nourizad received multiple sentences, including a seven-and-a-half year prison term, after being convicted on charges relating to an open letter he and others signed calling for the Supreme Leader’s resignation and for constitutional changes.
While in detention, Nourizad has carried out hunger strikes and refused to take medications, most recently starting 10 March 2021, to protest against his imprisonment and his family’s mistreatment by the authorities. He has also reportedly attempted suicide in prison, and began to self-harm as a form of protest on 19 February 2021.
Nourizad has been diagnosed with a heart condition and has frequently lost consciousness while in detention. On 14 April 2021, he was transferred to Loghman Hakim Educational Hospital in Tehran, after fainting. When he regained consciousness, he found someone injecting him with eight ampules of a substance that he did not consent to nor was he informed of the content. Nourizad has requested that officials inform him of the substances he was injected with and also for an investigation into the reasons why he received the injections. He has not yet been provided with this information or with a response to his request for an investigation.
“It is clear that Mohammad Nourizad is not in a medical state to remain in prison,” the experts said. “The judiciary’s own Legal Medical Organization and other medical professionals have reportedly found that he should be released on medical grounds. The Iranian authorities must release him immediately in line with these medical opinions and give him free access to the required medical care and treatment.”
The experts stressed that many individuals in the Islamic Republic of Iran are detained for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression. They reminded the Government that detention on such a basis is a clear violation of several of their human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“We remain extremely disturbed by continued reports of detainees, including those imprisoned for exercising their human rights, being denied or unnecessarily obstructed from receiving adequate medical treatment or care,” the experts said. “In extreme cases the denial of adequate treatment has resulted in death. The Iranian Government and judiciary has an obligation to ensure that all detainees receive proper treatment as prescribed not only under domestic law, but also under its international human rights obligations and the Mandela Rules on the minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners.”
The experts have previously raised concerns with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran about the detention of Mohammad Nourizad. The Government sent comments in response to the concerns raised. The experts have also raised concerns on access to medical care in detention.