Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe

Nazanin is a British-Iranian charity worker who was arbitrarily arrested in Tehran on 3 April 2016, and has remained in prison since on unspecified charges. She remains separated from her three-year-old daughter, who is stranded in Iran under the care of her grandparents.

Nazanin's story 

Nazanin is a British-Iranian dual national who, prior to her arrest in April 2016, was living in London with her husband Richard and their young daughter Gabriella, who are both British citizens.

Nazanin was returning from visiting family living in the capital city Tehran with Gabriella, when she was arrested at the airport by Iran’s revolutionary guard on 3 April 2016. No reason was given for her arrest.

Following her arrest, Nazanin was taken to an unspecified prison in Tehran, before being transported to another unspecified prison one thousand kilometres away in Kerman a week later.

She was then held in solitary confinement for 45 consecutive days, where she was not allowed to contact her husband and was only allowed limited and tightly controlled communications with her family. She was not given access to legal counsel or medical treatment, and the lights in her cell remained permanently switched on. As a result, Nazanin experienced great difficulty walking, weight loss, and her hair falling out.

She was taken to Evin prison in Tehran around 13 June 2016, where she remains, held in increasingly precarious conditions.

Following a secret and unfair trial in September 2016, Nazanin was sentenced to five years in prison on unspecified charges relating to national security. In April 2017, Iran’s supreme court upheld the conviction marking the end of the legal process. 

In total, Nazanin has spent 7 months in solitary confinement in cells without windows and around 1.5m2 in size. As a result, her mental and physical health has deteriorated. She is now suffering from arthritis in her neck and shoulder, and pains in her arm and right hand results in extensive periods of numbness and limited movement. She is currently in a state of despair and is experiences episodes of depression.

Iran does not acknowledge dual citizenship, and has therefore refused Nazanin British consular access. Under the Vienna Convention for Consular Relations (VCCR), to which Iran is a signatory, the UK is entitled to intervene in matters concerning its nationals overseas.

Action for justice

REDRESS filed a complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) on 17 June 2016. In the petition we argue that Nazanin’s detention without charge, separation from her two-year-old daughter, and time spent in solitary confinement is in breach of Articles 7, 9, 10, 14 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and constitutes arbitrary detention.

REDRESS went on to submit additional information to the WGAD updating them on Nazanin’s condition in August 2016, and again in January 2017.

Following the findings of the UN Working Group in September 2016, which called for Nazanin’s immediate release, REDRESS filed a submission to the body informing them that no progress had been made, more than 1 year after Nazanin’s arrest.

On 13 April 2017, REDRESS filed an implementation submission to the Working Group. This submission outlined the failure of Iran to implement the WGAD findings of September 2016, and updated them further on Nazanin’s condition.

The outcomes

On 7 September 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published its findings in response to our complaint. They found that Nazanin’s arrest and detention was arbitrary, and she was denied the right to a fair trial. The WGAD also found that Nazanin was targeted due to her dual citizenship.

The WGAD found that the arrest and detention of Nazanin breached articles 9, 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The UN body expressed its grave concern for Nazanin’s health, and the health problems she is suffering from as a result of time spent in solitary confinement and separation from her daughter.

The WGAD called for Nazanin’s immediate release, and for Iran to accord her the enforceable right to compensation.

On 7 October 2016, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran Ahmed Shaheed called for Nazanin’s immediate release. His appeal was endorsed by five UN rapporteurs, including the Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

On 12 October 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for Iran to release Nazanin along with other EU nationals held in Iran.

Quick facts

Case name: Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe  

Jurisdiction: UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Date filed: 17 June 2016

Current status: Decision reached | Implementation pending

Legal representation: REDRESS

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