According to several independent reports, Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death for apostasy, is soon to be executed. Iranian judicial authorities are said to have issued an order to the central prison in Rasht to that effect.
Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy Markus Löning issued the following statement in Berlin today (22 February):
“I am very troubled by the recent reports of Youcef Nadarkhani’s impending execution. Sentencing and executing someone because of his or her faith is not only incompatible with the basic principles of universal human rights, but also with Iran’s constitution and its commitments under international law.
I strongly urge the Iranian authorities to release Youcef Nadarkhani, revoke his death sentence, and grant him a fair trial with due process.
Iran is ignoring both its commitments under international law and its own constitution.”
In the autumn of 2010, Youcef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy at first instance. In the appellate proceedings, this court of first instance was obliged to clarify whether Mr Nadarkhani had ever been a practicing Muslim. This could not be proven. Nevertheless, the court of appeal ruled that he had to renounce Christianity in order to escape the death penalty.
By signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has undertaken to grant its citizens the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.