Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi. (AP/Vahid Salemi) (AP/Vahid Salemi)
Narges Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi, an already-imprisoned prominent human rights activist in Iran, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in a new trial, a ruling denounced Friday by the United Nations (UN) as it called for her immediate release.

Iranian media and officials have not commented on the sentence for Narges Mohammadi, who has campaigned against the death penalty and serves as the vice president of the now-banned Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran.

A statement from the center said Mohammadi was sentenced in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on charges including planning crimes to harm the security of Iran, spreading propaganda against the government and forming and managing an illegal group.

Mohammadi already is serving a six-year sentence, which means the new court ruling will extend her time in prison by four years, supporters say.

Mohammadi is close to Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, who founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center. Ebadi left Iran after the disputed re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, which touched off unprecedented protests and harsh crackdowns by authorities.

In a statement, the office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was “appalled” by Mohammadi’s sentence and said she was denied the specialized medical care she needs.

“Her sentencing is illustrative of an increasingly low tolerance for human rights advocacy in Iran,” the UN office said. “We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure the immediate release of Ms. Mohammadi and all those detained for merely exercising their human rights.”

Amnesty International said Thursday that Mohammadi’s sentence shows how “Iran’s abusive criminal justice system is used as a tool of repression.”

The Islamic Republic’s Abysmal Human Rights Violations Record

The state of human rights in Iran has been criticized both by Iranians and international human right activists, writers, and NGOs.

The United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission have repeatedly condemned prior and ongoing abuses in Iran in published critiques and several resolutions.

In April, Amnesty International reported that there was a dramatic 54 percent increase in executions globally in 2015, with Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia responsible for nearly 90 percent of the killings.

Executions in Iran rose 31 percent to 977, and Iran is one of the world’s largest users of the death penalty, ranking second behind China in 2014, according to the most recent figures from Amnesty.

In January, Amnesty International charged Iran with executing juveniles.

The London-based group also found that Iran has executed at least 73 juvenile offenders between 2005 and 2015, including at least four last year.

In late October, the United Nations’ special investigator on the human rights situation in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, warned that executions in Iran have risen at an “exponential rate” since 2005 and could top 1,000 in 2015. He said Iran puts more people to death per capita than any other country, adding that the majority of executions do not conform to international laws banning the death penalty for juveniles and non-violent offenders.

Most recently, the European Union (EU) announced in April it has extended sanctions against 82 Iranian officials until 2017 because of the Islamic Republic’s abysmal human rights violations record.

The 28-nation bloc has had asset freezes and travel bans in place against Iranians since 2011 because of violations of human rights.

By: AP