Iran: prisoner pardons welcome, but hundreds more who should be free remain in jail
Responding to an announcement yesterday by the Iranian authorities that pardons will be granted to prisoners convicted of “security” offences who have a five-year prison sentence or less, and that those who have been granted leave in recent weeks will not be returned to prison, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, said:
“Amnesty International welcomes the release of anyone detained as a prisoner of conscience, although they should not have been in prison in the first place.
“No one should spend a single day in prison for peacefully exercising their rights, and it is outrageous that so many prisoners of conscience remain unjustly jailed - including human rights defenders and many others detained for taking part in peaceful protests in November 2019 and January this year.
“Amnesty International is again calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience.”
Yesterday, the Iranian authorities announced that prisoners jailed for “security” offences who have a five-year prison sentence or less will be granted pardons, and that those who have been granted leave in recent weeks will not have to return to prison. Many prisoners defined by the authorities as jailed for “security” offences are actually prisoners held for politically-motivated reasons.
The announcement said the pardons were, in part, to mark the occasion of Nowrouz (the Iranian New Year), which falls on 20 March, and two Islamic religious holidays. The pardons were also made in light of the “sensitive situation” of the country, in apparent reference to the spread of the coronavirus. In recent weeks, Iran has been granting prison leave after payment of bail, as authorities struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus, including in the country’s prisons.