We urge the Iranian authorities to quash Mohammad Ali Taheri’s conviction and death sentence and release him immediately and unconditionally

We urge the Iranian authorities to quash Mohammad Ali Taheri’s conviction and death sentence and release him immediately and unconditionally

Mohammad Ali Taheri founded the Erfan Keyhani (Halgheh) spiritual doctrine after receiving what he claims were “spiritual inspirations” that empowered him to connect with a larger “cosmic consciousness”. He practiced his newly found spiritual beliefs, along with his followers, in “healing sessions” apparently focused on alternative non-medicinal treatments. Over the course of his imprisonment, Mohammad Ali Taheri has undertaken a total of 16 hunger strikes and attempted suicide four times in protest at his prolonged solitary confinement, lack of access to his family and lawyer, and repeated death threats against him and his family. His most recent hunger strike began on 28 September 2016 and lasted 97 days.
Despite the acquittal and even though Mohammad Ali Taheri had completed his five-year sentence from the 2011 case in February 2016, the Iranian authorities and Revolutionary guards refused to release him. Instead, they started a new round of interrogations and, in late 2016, they charged him again with “spreading corruption on earth”, and in August 2017 Iranian revolutionary court has sentenced Mohammad Ali Taheri to death sentence. The conviction related to the same activities that formed the basis of his 2011 conviction.
The criminal proceedings in Mohammad Ali Taheri’s case constitute a serious violation of the prohibition against double jeopardy, which provides protection against individuals being tried or punished in the same jurisdiction for the same criminal offense they have already been convicted or acquitted of. Article 14(7) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a party, states: “No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offense for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country.”
According to the UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the ICCPR, prolonged solitary confinement may violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) prohibits the practice of prolonged solitary confinement, considered to be in excess of 15 consecutive days.
We continue to document serious human rights violations in Iran including detention of human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience, unfair trials, torture and mistreatment in detention, deaths in custody and the application of the death penalty. Women, ethnic, religious and linguistic minority communities face persistent persecution. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees is common and committed with impunity; prison conditions are harsh.
We urge the Iranian authorities to quash Mohammad Ali Taheri’s conviction and death sentence and release him immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedoms of belief, expression and association.

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