Human Rights Commissioner calls for the immediate release of the Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

12.10.2011 - Press release

According to various sources, the death sentence against Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for apostasy (abandonment of religious belief) still stands.

In this connection Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning issued the following statement in Berlin today (12 October):

“The Iranian regime is playing with the life of Youcef Nadarkhani. Every day we hear new and conflicting reports from Iran. New charges are levelled against him time and again. The proceedings still do not seem to be solely in the hands of the judiciary. This lack of transparency shows that Mr Nadarkhani has not been afforded due process of law.
According to the information we have received, Mr Nadarkhani is still facing the death penalty. I call for the immediate lifting of this sentence and the speedy release of Youcef Nadarkhani.
I am appalled that the Iranian regime has chosen to ignore the international commitments it itself has made, as well as its own constitution. The Iranian regime must understand that by taking these actions it is further isolating itself internationally.”

In the autumn of 2010, Youcef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy by a court of first instance. In the appellate proceedings, this court of first instance was obliged to clarify whether Mr Nadarkhani had ever been a practising Muslim. This could not be proven. Nevertheless, the court of appeal ruled that he had to turn his back on Christianity in order to escape the death penalty.

There are conflicting reports about the current state of the proceedings. Mr Nadarkhani now also stands accused of rape and extortion.

By signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has undertaken to grant its citizens the right, among other things, to freedom of religion.

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