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Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler on the death sentence imposed on Navid Afkari in Iran

10.09.2020 - Press release

Commenting on current reports about the death sentence imposed on a participant in the protests in Iran in August 2018, Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (10 September):

I am shocked by the case of Navid Afkari and his two brothers. Once again, three young people in Iran have been sentenced to draconian punishments for protesting against the Government.

I call on those responsible in Iran to suspend the death sentence against Navid Afkari and to enable him and his brothers, Vahid and Habib, to have a fair trial in keeping with the principles of the rule of law. This includes not forcing confessions through torture!

These cases show that the human rights situation in Iran is getting continually worse and falling further and further below the international obligations into which the country has entered.

The German Government is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, as it is a brutal and inhumane form of punishment. Together with our EU partners, we have been working intensively for many years to bring about the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

Background information:

27‑year‑old Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari and his brothers Vahid and Habib Afkari took part in the protests in Shiraz in early August 2018. The brothers were arrested in autumn 2018. On 31 August 2020, Navid Afkari was found guilty of “waging war against God” and “forming a group against the political system” and sentenced to death. He is also accused of the murder of a policeman. His brothers Vahid and Habib were sentenced to 54 and 27 years’ imprisonment respectively and both were sentenced to 74 lashes. According to reports from human rights organisations, all three made forced confessions under torture.

In early August 2018 there were protests against the Iranian leadership in several cities in the country. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Tehran, Shiraz, Karaj and Qom. They were protesting against the rising cost of living. However, the protests also criticised the Government and corruption.

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