The United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention this week released a 6-page report condemning the “arbitrary” and illegal detention of American Pastor Saeed Abedini and urging his immediate “release.”
The report details how Pastor Saeed was detained in Iran while finalizing the details of a government approved orphanage in July 2012, was subjected to a sham trial on charges related solely to his religious beliefs, and has spent nearly two years behind bars, enduring periods of solitary confinement and brutal beatings, because of his Christian faith.
It further highlights how he has suffered internal injuries from those beatings and has been denied critically needed medical care.
The Working Group considers that in the case under consideration Mr. Abedini has been deprived of his liberty for peacefully exercising the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and association, as guaranteed under article 19 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights], and articles 18(1) and 19(2) of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]. . .
The Working Group also considers that in this case Mr. Abedini has been deprived of his liberty for being a practicing Christian for reasons of discrimination based on religion, in violation of articles 2 and 7 of the UDHR, as well as articles 18 and 26 of the ICCPR. . . .
The Working Group considers that the non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial in this case, namely article 10 of the UDHR and article 14(3) (b), (d) and (e) of the ICCPR, is of such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Abedini an arbitrary character.
Based on these finding’s the U.N. Working Group concludes:
Consequent upon the opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Abedini and bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the UDHR and the ICCPR.
The Working Group believes that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Abedini and accord him an enforceable right to compensation in accordance with article 9.5 of the ICCPR.
In accordance with article 33(a) of its Revised Methods of Work, the Working Group considers it appropriate to refer the allegations of torture to the Special Rapporteur on torture for appropriate action.
The U.N. Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s findings and recommendations are a significant step forward in the fight for Pastor Saeed’s freedom.
The international body’s recognition of the wrongful imprisonment and inhumane treatment of Pastor Saeed merely because of his Christian faith opens the door to further international efforts to secure his freedom.
We welcome the Working Group’s strong statement demanding Pastor Saeed’s immediate release. We continue to urge the U.N. and the U.S. State Department to do more to secure Pastor Saeed’s freedom. For Iran, Pastor Saeed’s release would send a powerful signal that change has come to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Our team at the U.N., lead by our international affiliate the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an official NGO with the U.N., presented an oral intervention today at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Pastor Saeed’s behalf.
We emphasized the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s report and called on the U.N. to “act on its recommendations.”
Dr. Grégor Puppinck, Executive Director of the ECLJ, concluded his presentation stating:
We therefore respectfully urge this body to act, to take up the cause of Mr. Abedini, and call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Abedini. It is time for the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the rights of Mr. Abedini and return this innocent man to his wife and two young children.
You can watch our oral intervention at the U.N. here (chapter 19).
This presentation at the U.N. allowed us to once again speak on behalf of the hundreds of thousands who have signed the petition for Pastor Saeed’s freedom at BeHeardProject.com.
Next week, September 26th, will mark the 2-year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s illegal imprisonment in Iran for his Christian faith.
That day will be marked by coordinated prayer vigils in hundreds of cities throughout dozens of countries around the world. Learn more about a vigil in your area at SaeedVigil.com.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Saeed’s freedom as we continue fighting across the globe for his release.
Joran Sekulow, ACLJ