Iran (Islamic Republic of)
678. By letter dated 13 September 2002, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information according to which in March 2002, Iran's parliament (Majles) passed a bill allegedly aimed at limiting the practice of torture and the use of forced confessions in criminal trials, in accordance with Article 38 of the Constitution which prohibits the use of torture to extract confessions. The use of torture as a punishment or for other purposes was however said not to be specifically prohibited in the Constitution. This Parliamentary bill was reported not to have upheld the right of detainees charged with a criminal offense to have prompt access to legal counsel, nor did it set limits on the permitted length of time that a detainee may be detained incommunicado. Both practices were believed to facilitate the use of torture by law enforcement agencies. It was alleged that the bill also stipulated that certain categories of suspects were exempted from the safeguards contained in the bill. These include: members of apostate groups, a definition that could include members of the Bahai religious minority; Mohareb (those at war with God), a term that is said to be applied to many types of Government critics; and those accused of espionage, a charge believed to have a very loose definition in Iranian penal law.
679. Nevertheless, on 9 June, the bill was reportedly rejected by the Council of Guardians, a body of twelve senior clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene'i, whose role is to ensure that all laws passed by the Majles are compatible with their interpretation of Islam. The Council argued that the bill would limit the authority of judges to adjudicate on the admissibility of confessions and therefore ruled that the bill was against the principles of Islam. Fears were expressed that this may authorize judges to accept as evidence in court confessions extracted by illegal means. The bill was subsequently sent back to the Parliament for revision, and was said, at the time of writing, to be under review by the legal and judicial affairs committee of the Parliament.
680. By the same letter, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information on the following individual cases.
681. An Iranian national, who had reportedly been arrested in the city of Mashhad and convicted of raping and killing his 16-year-old nephew, was reportedly to be executed by being thrown of a cliff in a sack in July 2002. Legal experts were alleged to have stated that if he were to survive the fall, he would be hanged.
682. Alireza N., Mohammad A., Sattar S., and Alireza Q., four prisoners, were reportedly sentenced to death on 8 May 2002 after receiving 75 lashes each. They were reportedly charged with “killing an officer of the State Security Forces”. The same court was said to have ordered another prisoner’s right hand and left foot to be amputated.
683. Babak Pilehvar and Hossein Rezamehvar reportedly had their right hands amputated in early May 2002 in the city of Shiraz. Upon their recovery, their left legs would reportedly be amputated.
684. Two members of the Iranian national football team reportedly received dozens 170 and 70 lashes respectively for “moral corruption” in the beginning of July 2002. The players had reportedly been identified by videos and photographs found in an illegal brothel in Tehran.
685. Reportedly, on 19 May 2002, Iran’s deputy police chief, Brigadier-General called for a wider practice of amputations.
686. By letter dated 16 September 2002 sent jointly with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information according to which, Iran’s presidential adviser on women’s issues allegedly defended the practice of stoning women to death for adultery at a meeting at the beginning of July 2002 with Belgium’s deputy prime minister, stating that the punishment was correct under sharia law and “safeguarded the inviolability of the family”. She furthermore allegedly stated that “once the conditions needed to justify death by stoning, namely the existence of four witnesses to the act, were fulfilled, the perpetrators “deserved the punishment”.
687. Azam, a woman from the village of Badali near Behbahan, was reportedly sentenced by a court in southern Iran in July 2002 to have both her eyes gouged out in public, after she threw acid powder at a man who wanted to rape her at gunpoint and caused him to be blinded. The mullah-judge reportedly added that the punishment "must be carried out in public, in order to set an example for members of the public." Azam was allegedly also sentenced to a year in jail for "throwing" obnoxious materials.
688. By letter dated 17 October 2002, the Special Rapporteur reminded the Government of a number of cases transmitted in 1998, 2000 and 2001 regarding which no reply had been received.
689. On 28 March 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Representative on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention on behalf of Siamak Pourzand, an intellectual responsible of the Tehran Cultural Centre who had allegedly been arrested on 24 November 2001. It was alleged that he had been put on trial at the Mahrabad Court on 6 March 2002. His own lawyers have reportedly not been given access to him. Fears were expressed that his reported confession in the first trial session did not express the free decision Siamak Pourzand’s will.
690. On 23 April 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression concerning the reported ban of the regional weekly newspaper "Chams-e-Tabriz" and sentencing of its editor, Ali-Hamed Iman to eight months emprisonment and 74 lashes on 16 April 2002, by a court in Tabriz. The latter had reportedly been found guilty of fifteen offences, including "insulting religion and the Prophet", "trying to stir up ethnic tension", "insulting the leaders of the regime" and "publishing lies".
691. On 10 May 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Siamak Pourzand, on behalf of whom the Special Rapporteurs intervened on 12 February 2002 (see above). On 6 March 2002, closed and unannounced proceedings reportedly began against him. He was allegedly denied access to medical assistance, although he suffers from diabetes and a heart complaint. He was reportedly sentenced on 3 May 2002 to eight years' imprisonment on charges of “underming state security through links with monarchists and counter-revolutionaries”. Charges against him were allegedly based on confessions believed to have been extracted under duress.
692. On 15 July 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on behalf of Soltani, a lawyer, who had been sentenced on 9 July 2002 by the First Instance Tribunal of Tehran to four months imprisonment and deprived of his right to exercise his profession for five years. It was believed that he was sentenced for having declared during a trial in March 2002, regarding which there is not yet any final decision, that his clients who are accused of alleged political charges, had been tortured during interrogation. During a hearing, his clients are said to have testified that they had been tortured. It is also reported that Soltani's lawyer, Seyfzadeh Mohammad, was also sentenced to four months imprisonment and deprived of his right to exercise his profession for three years.
693. On 20 August 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on behalf of Nasser Zarafchan, a lawyer on behalf of whom previous urgent appeals were sent on 11 January 2001 and 18 October 2001, by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders and the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and a communication by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on 30 April 2002. He was reportedly detained on 8 August 2002, pending the hearing of his appeal against a decision of the Military Court of Tehran on 16 July 2002. This decision confirmed the sentence of five years imprisonment and 70 lashes and a five year suspension from legal practice, which had been imposed by the Military Tribunal of Tehran on 19 March 2002. Reportedly, although he was suffering from liver cancer, he was subject to medical tests to determine whether he was healthy enough to undergo the carrying out of the flogging sentence.
694. On 20 August 2002, the Special Raporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on behalf of Manuchehr Mohammadi, one of the leaders of the student movement detained in 1999 on whose behalf the Special Representative on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran had already intervened by letter dated 28 November 2001. He was reportedly transferred from Evin prison in Tehran to a prison in Ghaemshar in the north of Iran in July 2002. Several days afterwards, he was said to have been beaten unconscious by criminal inmates. On 4 August 2002, he was reportedly placed into solitary confinement for 10 days and was not allowed to receive visitors or make telephone calls. Shortly before the imposition of solitary confinement, he was reportedly beaten with cables on his back by prison guards, leading to extensive bruising. He was also believed to suffer from malnutrition, and gum infections for which he was said to have been denied treatment.
695. On 4 October 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on behalf of Said Masouri, a detainee in Wing 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran who was facing face imminent execution. It is alleged he had reportedly been illtreated and threatened with summary execution if he refused to make a televised confession. As a result, he reportedly lost a lot of weight. In June 2002, Branch 6 of the Revolutionary Court, located in Evin prison in Tehran, sentenced him to death on various charges, including "acting against state security", "membership of a proscribed organization" and other security provisions. He was reportedly not allowed to choose his own lawyer and was allocated one by the court.
696. On 16 October 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression on behalf of Chini Maqsoud and a group of artist from the Republic of Azerbaijan. Chini Maqsoud was reportedly at risk of imminent flogging (74 lashes) for his involvement in a party allegedly deemed by judicial authorities to be “depraved”. Artists performing at the party were also arrested shortly after 21 September 2002 and barred from leaving the country until further investigation.
697. On 11 November 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal on behalf of Seyyed Hashem Aghajari, a professor at Tehran's Tarbiat Modares University who was arrested on 8 August 2002, following a speech he gave on 19 June in Hamedan, in which he called for a "religious renewal". On 7 November 2002 he was sentenced to 74 lashes, eight years' imprisonment - to be served in "internal exile" - and death following a closed trial in Hamedan. Further, it was reported that he was in urgent need of medical attention to his right leg, amputated at the knee and apparently bruised and infected. He was reportedly unable to stand up, walk or use the prison's hygiene facilities.
698. On 13 November 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal on behalf of Dr Hossein Ghaziyan, a university lecturer and director of the Ayandeh Research Group (polling institute), Behrouz Geranpayeh, a journalist and Director of the National Institute for Research and Opinion Polls, Abbas Abdi, a journalist and Mohsen Goudarzi, the director of the National Plan for Assessing Iranians' Opinions and Values. All four men were reportedly detained in connection with an opinion poll on US-Iranian relations. It is believed that on 10 November 2002, a member of parliament stated that Dr Hossein Ghaziyan and Behrouz Geranpayeh were "under considerable pressure", and that both men are being held in an "illegal military prison". This is widely thought to be Prison 66, in north Tehran, which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, a state security force. Behrouz Geranpayeh, who was brought to his place and allowed to see his wife on 7 November, was believed to have lost 10 to 12 kilograms, to be weak and in need of regular doses of "intravenous medicine. Fears were expressed over his health. The Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), which is said to be a political group supporting President Khatami, reportedly stated that Abbas Abdi was held in "solitary confinement with no access to family or lawyer".
699. The Special Rapporteur notes with concern that no response has been provided to a number of cases brought to the attention of the Government since 1998 as well as to urgent appeals. In view of the nature of the latter, he would appreciate receiving prompt information on measures taken to ensure that the right to physical and mental integrity is properly respected.
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This report has been published by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights on August 2, 2005.