54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (11 September to 13 October 2023)
Item 3: General debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
Following the report by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, there are two urgent cases we wish to highlight.
In April last year, Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala was sentenced to 24 years in prison for causing a public disturbance. This came after 15 months of his being arbitrarily detained and denied his right to a fair trial. While the Working Group reviewed 88 cases this cycle, Mr. Bala’s was regrettably not amongst them, despite the Working Group’s receipt of a joint submission from our organization, Freedom House, and Freedom Now. We call on the Working Group to urgently review Mr. Bala’s case, and for the Nigerian authorities to quash his conviction and uphold his rights to freedom of belief and expression, which are protected under the Nigerian Constitution.
Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali’s case is equally urgent. Seven years ago, Dr. Djalali was sentenced to death on false charges of espionage and “spreading corruption on earth.” Recently, the Iranian government has once again, via the media, threatened his execution and his life is at imminent risk. He is in horrific conditions – mentally and physically – has been subjected to torture, and repeatedly denied access to his lawyer. The Working Group has found that he has been arbitrarily detained and denied his right to a fair trial. Multiple Special Rapporteurs have called for his release, along with numerous NGOs and governments. We call on the international community, particularly Sweden (of which Dr Djalali is a citizen) to act now and step up pressure on Iran for his immediate release.
'Arbitrary Detention of Mubarak Bala and Dr. Ahmedezra Djalali', Humanists International