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Sarah Shourd was held in solitary confinement in Evin prison, in Iran, for 410 days until her release on bail on September 14th 2010, after a world-wide campaign.

Sarah, her fiance Shane Bauer and their friend Josh Fattal, US citizens, were taken hostage by Iranian security guards in Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2009.

Shane and Josh were finally released on 21st September 2011.

July 2010

United Nations Acknowledges Sarah Shourd's Treatment is Torture

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture has sent an Urgent Appeal to the Iranian Authorities on Sarah's behalf.

Sarah has been in solitary confinement since July 2009.

Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:
Solitary confinement is an extreme and potentially harmful measure... Periods in solitary confinement should be as short as possible

For more than a year, Sarah has been living in a cell measuring about 2 metres by 3 metres. She has one small window high up in the wall, too high to see out of, and in her door is a tiny hatchway, which is kept closed.

To use the bathroom, Sarah has to ring a bell and then the guards take her, blindfolded, along the corridor.

Sarah has a pre-cancerous medical condition. Results of tests taken several months ago have been withheld. Sarah is being denied medical care and monitoring. There has been no assessment of the state of her mental health.

Sarah has approximately one hour a day in an exercise yard with her two fellow captives, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. Withdrawal of this privilege is used as a punitive measure for 'bad' behaviour.

Sarah has 15 minutes of television a day (sometimes withdrawn as a punishment) and has limited reading material. Access to writing materials were withdrawn in April, possibly as a punishment when Sarah threatened to go on hunger strike.

Article 7 of the ICCPR states:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Article 10 of the ICCPR states:
All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person

Sarah's mother, Nora, writes to her daily but Sarah only receives some of her letters, and only about once every two months. Letters from other family and friends do not reach her and Sarah has never been able to send any letters herself.

Sarah has been allowed 2 phone calls, one in March and one at the end of July, and one family visit. The visit by her mother took place in May, amidst worldwide media attention. They had no really private time, apart from visiting the bathroom together when Sarah was able to show Nora her breast lump.

The Swiss Consulate have been permitted by the Iranian Authorities to visit on 3 occasions, in September and October 2009 and then again in April 2010. Sarah has had no other visitors.

Article 17 of the ICCPR states:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence

After over a year, Sarah has still not been charged with any offence.

Article 32 of the Iranian Constitution states:
In case of arrest, charges with the reasons for accusation must, without delay, be communicated and explained to the accused in writing, and a provisional dossier must be forwarded to the competent judicial authorities within a maximum of twenty-four hours

Sarah has still had no access to a lawyer or any legal council.

Isolation without access to legal council is called ‘incommunicado'. It may be illegal under international law and is subject to special provisions

Sarah has never had any idea how long her solitary confinement will last.

Uncertainty about the expected duration of solitary confinement is likely to increase its adverse effects

Over the last 12 months, accusations of espionage have been made by Iranian government sources. In addition, official Iranian media channels have repeatedly broadcast false information that the 3 prisoners have been charged with espionage.

Article 37 of the Iranian Constitution states:
Innocence is to be presumed, and no one is to be held guilty of a charge unless his or her guilt has been established by a competent court

Iran was one of the first countries in the world to ratify the ICCPR, in 1975. The ICCPR entered into force in 1976 and is legally binding on all signatory parties.

Its provisions are interpreted and its implementation monitored by the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC).

Under Article 40 of the ICCPR, all State parties to it are required to periodically submit a report on their compliance with the ICCPR.

Two articles of the ICCPR relate directly to the treatment of prisoners and prison conditions, including solitary confinement.

The UN Human Rights Committee has stipulated that use of prolonged solitary confinement may also amount to a breach of Article 7 of the ICCPR.

Ref: 'A Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement' by Sharon Shalev - Mannheim Centre for Criminology

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