BERLIN – Iranian authorities have recently assigned the case of imprisoned American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini to a Tehran judge sanctioned by the European Union for human rights violations.

Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wrote The Jerusalem Post by email on Thursday saying, “This development underscores our growing concern for Pastor Saeed. In a country that’s hostile to human rights and religious freedom, the news that Pastor Saeed’s case has now been handed over to one of Iran’s most notorious judges is deeply troubling. In a real sense, Pastor Saeed is an American abandoned in Iran.”

The ACLJ advocates religious freedom in the US and abroad and has served as a watchdog for the persecution of Christians in the Islamic Republic.

It noted that Judge Pir-Abassi, who is overseeing Saeed’s legal process, is “notorious for his harsh sentences against those who exercise their fundamental freedoms. In the international law arena, Judge Pir- Abassi is often referred to as one of Iran’s ‘hanging judges’ for the numerous individuals he has sent to the gallows.”

The European Union listed Pir-Abassi in 2011 as an individual subject to sanctions for human rights violations. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended to the State Department in its 2012 annual report that Washington issue similar sanctions against Pir-Abassi.

According to the commission, Pir-Abassi is “responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom” and the US should “continue to bar [him] from entry into the United States and freeze [his and his immediate family members’] assets.”

However, Washington has done little thus far in regards to Abedini, Sekulow told the Post.

“To date, the US State Department has done very little regarding this case. We continue to push the State Department to engage on behalf of a US citizen who faces grave danger in Iran. The State Department needs to do much more, including using all diplomatic ties with friends of Iran to see that Pastor Saeed is returned home,” he said.

Meanwhile, the British human rights organization Amnesty International criticized the Saudi Arabian government on Wednesday for the “beheading of a Sri Lankan domestic worker in Saudi Arabia for a crime she allegedly committed while still a child.”

The killing “shows once more that the Gulf kingdom is woefully out of step with international standards on the death penalty,” Amnesty said.

According to the human rights organization, “Rizana Nafeek was executed in Dawadmi, a town west of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, on Wednesday morning. Her death sentence had been handed down by a Dawadmi court on June 16, 2007, based on allegations that she murdered an infant in her care when she herself was 17 years old.”

Amnesty and the Sri Lankan government asked for “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah – who ratified her death sentence – to show clemency in her case, given her young age at the time of the alleged crime as well as concerns she had received an unfair trial.”

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs website noted that President Rajapaksa and the government of Sri Lanka “deplore” her beheading.

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