Iranian death sentence for Facebook postings violates international law

International standards

By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, on 28 November 2014

Soheil Arabi, a 30-year-old Iranian photographer, has been sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet” on Facebook and his death sentence has been upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court. The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty strongly condemns Arabi’s death sentence and calls on the Iranian authorities to rescind it immediately.
The President of the World Coalition, Florence Bellivier, stated: “Soheil Arabi has been sentenced to death solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. We call for immediate removal of his death sentence and urge the Iranian authorities to release him.”
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the Spokesperson of Iran Human Rights, a member of the World Coalition’s Steering Committee, said: “Iranian penal law allows death penalty for many non-violent charges such as ‘insulting the Prophet’. Reversal of these death sentences must be the highest priority of the international community’s dialogue with Iran”.
The Revolutionary Guards arrested Soheil Arabi in November 2013. Arabi  was held in solitary confinement for two months inside the Guard’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, before he was transferred to Evin’s General Ward 350, where he is being held now. Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court, under Judge Khorasani, found Arabi guilty of “sabb al-nabi” (insulting the Prophet), for postings Soheil Arabi made on eight Facebook accounts, which the authorities said belong to him, on August 30, 2014. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence on 24 November 2014.
Article 262 of the Iranian Penal Code provides a sentence of death for insulting the Prophet of Islam or any of the other grand prophets.
Arabi’s death sentence is a clear violation of Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect the right to freedom of expression.

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