Human Rights in Iran – Monday, September 5, 2022 – the Revolutionary Court of Urmia sentenced Zahra (Sareh) Sedighi and Elham Choobdar to death by issuing a writ.
According to the Human Rights in Iran report, citing Mizan news agency, in the past days, Zahra (Sareh) Sedighi and Elham Choobdar, two prisoners incarcerated in the central prison of Urmia, were sentenced by the Revolutionary Court of this city to death penalty on the charge of “corruption on earth through trafficking of women and girls”.
“Zahra (Sareh) Sedighi and Elham Choobdar’s activities were “forming and launching a gang to smuggle women and girls from Iran to Erbil, Iraq”., according to the announcement of this media affiliated with the judiciary.
Among the other accusations of Zahra Sedighi and Elham Choobdar are also “degradation of the relationship between people” and “promotion of homosexuality”.
It should be mentioned that on January 16, 2022, Zahra (Sareh) Sedighi was accused of “corruption on earth”, “communication with anti-regime media” and “promotion of Christianity”, after being interrogated at the Intelligence Detention Center of Urmia.
This activist of the LGBT community was arrested on October 27, 2021, near the land border of Turkey, in the city of Urmia by the agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and after being transferred to solitary confinement, she was subjected to enforced disappearance for 53 days and was denied access to a lawyer and other civil rights of a defendant during interrogation. After the completion of the interrogation process on January 16, 2022, her case was referred to Branch 6 of the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office in Urmia.
Although human trafficking is one of the crimes that is completely rejected from the perspective of human rights organizations, it is important to note that a defendant has the right to due process and to respect his/her rights during interrogation, investigation and trial, which Zahra Sedighi and Elham Choobdar appear to have been deprived of their rights.
In Article 5 of the Criminal Procedure Law, it is emphasized on informing the accused as soon as possible about the alleged charges and providing the right of access to a lawyer and other defense rights mentioned in the law.
After the appointment of Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ezhe’ei as the head of the judiciary and his claim to speed up the enforcement of old cases and as a result the implementation of death sentences with the aim of reducing the country’s criminal crimes, this process lead to the protest of Amnesty International by publishing a report on 27th June, 2022, explaining the situation of the implementation of death sentences in the first 6 months of 2022 in Iran.
Also, on August 23, 2022, Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, in his periodic report on cases of human rights violations in Iran, protested the increasing process of issuing and executing death sentences in Iran.
Due to the non-transparency of the Iranian authorities, it is difficult to find out the actual number of executions in this country, and the number is certainly much higher than the announced figure.
Issuing and executing death sentences violates international human rights documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.