Iran: Imminent execution of Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali must be halted
Responding to news that Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish specialist in emergency medicine, has been transferred to solitary confinement in Evin prison and told by the prosecution authorities that his death sentence will be carried out imminently, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy, said:
“We were horrified to learn that the authorities have instructed the office in charge of implementing sentences to transfer Ahmadreza Djalali to solitary confinement and implement his death sentence no later than a week from 24 November.
“It is appalling that despite repeated calls from UN human rights experts to quash Ahmadreza Djalali’s death sentence and release him, the Iranian authorities have instead decided to push for this irreversible injustice. They must immediately halt any plans to execute Ahmadreza Djalali and end their shocking assault on his right to life.
We were horrified to learn that the authorities have instructed the office in charge of implementing sentences to transfer Ahmadreza Djalali to solitary confinement and implement his death sentence no later than a week from 24 November.
“We call on members of the international community to immediately intervene, including through their embassies in Tehran, to save Ahmadreza Djalali’s life before it is too late.
“International human rights bodies have consistently held that it is a violation of the right to life to pass a death sentence after criminal proceedings that violate fair trial guarantees. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and without exception as the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment.”
Ahmadreza Djalali was sentenced to death for “corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel-arz) in October 2017 after a grossly unfair trial before Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The court relied primarily on “confessions” that Ahmadreza Djalili says were obtained under torture and other ill-treatment while he was held in prolonged solitary confinement without access to a lawyer. These included threats to execute him, kill or otherwise harm his children, who live in Sweden, and his mother, who lives in Iran. Amnesty International has consistently held that that the offence of “corruption on earth” fails to meet requirements for clarity and precision needed in criminal law, and also breaches the principle of legality and legal certainty.
In a letter written from inside Evin prison in August 2017, Ahmadreza Djalali said he was held solely because of his refusal to use his academic ties in European institutions to spy for Iran.
On 17 December 2017, an Iranian state-run TV station aired Ahmadreza Djalali’s “confession” along with a voiceover presenting him as a “spy”. By extracting and airing these forced “confessions”, Iranian authorities violated Ahmadreza Djalali’s right to the presumption of innocence as well as the right not to be forced into incriminating himself. Since December 2017, his lawyers have filed at least two requests for a judicial review of Ahmadreza Djalali’s case, and both have been rejected.
In November 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on Iran to release Ahmadreza Djalali immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, as he had been detained without an arrest warrant, had only been formally charged 10 months after his arrest, and had been “effectively prevented from exercising his right to challenge the lawfulness of his detention”. The Working Group also found that his right to a fair trial had been violated to such a gravity “as to give Mr Djalali’s deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character”.
On 9 December 2018, his lawyers learned that Branch 1 of the Supreme Court had upheld his death sentence without granting them an opportunity to file their defence submissions on his behalf.