26, Feb 2018 | CJP Team
After members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF) were detained for alleged spying, United Nations human rights experts have said that they are “concerned that Iranian authorities now seem to be arresting and investigating peaceful scientific activists for their invaluable conservationist work.” They added, “It is hard to fathom how working to preserve the Iranian flora and fauna can possibly be linked to conducting espionage against Iranian interests”. The experts called for the environmentalists’ immediate release, and for charges against them to be dropped. Kavous Seyed Emami, PWHF’s founder and director, died in custody after being detained; authorities told his family that he committed suicide. The experts said Emami’s “death in custody strongly suggests foul play,” and called for an “impartial and effective investigation into the circumstances and causes” of his death. Seven other environmentalists belonging to PWHF have also been arrested on charges of espionage. The UN experts in question include the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.