Campaigners and legal and human rights activists have appealed to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to intervene on the case of Nazan Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the Iranian-British mother and charity worker who has been held hostage in Iran for 22 months.
On February 13, the Free Nazanin campaign presented a submission to the rapporteur, Professor Nils Melzer, asserting that the conditions Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held in, and the treatment she has endured, amount to torture.
The submission, presented by legal organization Redress, sets out why Iranian authorities’ treatment of Zaghari-Ratcliffe amounts to torture and meets UN criteria to be considered as such.
Since her arrest in April 2016, Zaghari-Ratcliffe has repeatedly been subject to psychological abuse. She has been held in solitary confinement, endured court proceedings and trials that do not conform to normal standards for Iranian judicial hearings, and denied the temporary leave to which the majority of prisoners are entitled. Iranian officials continue to use her as a tool to pressure international and diplomatic matters that have nothing to do with her case.
More than one state agency has been involved in her abuse, the Free Nazanin campaign says, abuse that has been “coordinated with the use of the court system to arbitrarily invent and close new court cases; the state TV news to spread false and abusive information about her; and even the consular services to assert the authorities’ control over her daughter and access to her family. It constitutes torture because the whole armory of the state is used to maximize psychological pressure.”
Since the beginning of the year Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told that she would likely be given temporary leave, but this was not forthcoming. In the run-up to this week’s “Independence Day” — the day marking the anniversary of the Islamic Republic on February 11 — she and her family were told separately that the judiciary had closed her case and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was now in charge of her release. Iran’s deputy prosecutor spoke to Nazanin directly, and confirmed that her case was no longer being handled by the judiciary or the Revolutionary Guards. “From the judiciary’s perspective they did not need to keep her in prison,” a Free Nazanin press release said. Yet no date has been given for her release.
“I think we have passed the threshold where Nazanin’s treatment is torture,” said her husband Richard Ratcliffe in the statement. “These ongoing games remain a kind of psychological torture of continual ups and downs, and pressures impacting on Nazanin. I have asked the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to follow up on Nazanin’s case with both governments, to respect their obligations to protect Nazanin, and to find a way to bring her home.”
The Redress submission also points out recent events in Iran and the “deterioration in the situation of a number of dual nationals in Iran, among them Canadian-Iranian professor Kavous Seyed Emami, who died in prison on February 9, 2018, after being in detention for 17 days.” It also points to the case of jailed 81-year-old US-Iranian citizen Baquer Namazi, who was rushed to the hospital late on the night of February 11 after having been taken back to Evin Prison against the advice of his doctors and cardiac specialists.
According to the Free Nazanin campaign, Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s political deputy, is due to visit London later in February. Richard Ratcliffe has requested a meeting with him during his visit to appeal for his assistance in bringing Nazanin home.