HRANA News Agency – Human rights campaigners are increasingly worried that funding to combat the narcotics trade is providing indirect assistance to a judicial system that is engaged in what has been described as ‘a killing spree of staggering proportions’.
HRANA News Agency – (Beirut) – Proposed amendments to Iran’s penal code would violate the rights of accused people and criminal defendants, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Iranian authorities should suspend enactment of the proposed amendments and undertake a major overhaul of the country’s abusive penal laws.
The48-page report, “Codifying Repression: An Assessment of Iran’s New Penal Code,” says that many problematic provisions of the current penal code remain unaddressed in the proposed amendments. Some of the amendments would weaken further the rights of criminal defendants and convicts and allow judges wide discretion to issue punishments that violate the rights of the accused. Lawmakers and judiciary officials have cited the amendments as a serious attempt to comply with Iran’s international human rights obligations.
“These amendments do little to address penal code provisions that allow the government to jail, torture, and execute people who criticize the government,” saidJoe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “If Iran wants to comply with its human rights obligations, it should completely and categorically ban deplorable practices like child executions, limb amputations, and stoning.”
In January 2012 the Guardian Council, an unelected body of 12 religious jurists charged with vetting all legislation to ensure its compatibility with Iran’s constitution and Sharia, or Islamic law, approved the final text of an amended penal code. Parliament and other supervisory bodies have approved and finalized the text of the amendments, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not yet signed the amended code into law. Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who is the head of Iran’s judiciary, has ordered Iran’s courts to apply the old penal code until Ahmadinejad signs the new amendments into law, which could happen at any time.
Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which went into effect in 1991, reflects the ruling clerics’ interpretation of Sharia law, based on the Jafari or Twelver Shia school of jurisprudence. It includes discretionary (ta’zir) punishments not specifically laid out in Sharia law that apply to most of Iran’s national security laws, under which political dissidents are convicted and sentenced in revolutionary courts.
The latest amendments address changes in three types of punishments specified in Sharia law:hadd – crimes against God, such as adultery and drinking alcohol, for which Sharia law assigns fixed and specific punishments);qesas– retributive justice, often reserved for murder; anddiyeh – compensation to victims in the form of “blood money.”
The most serious problems with the new provisions include their retention of the death penalty for child offenders and for crimes that are not considered serious under international law, Human Rights Watch said. The amendments also fail to define clearly and set out in the code several crimes that carry serious punishments, including capital punishment.
They also include broad or vaguely worded national security-related laws criminalizing the exercise of fundamental rights. And they would permit the continued use of punishments that amount to torture or cruel and degrading treatment, such as stoning, flogging, and amputation.
The amendments also reinforce previously discriminatory provisions against women and religious minorities.
Contrary to official assertions that the amendments will prohibit the execution of people less than 18 years of age, the new law retains the death penalty for children in certain circumstances. Children convicted ofta’ziror discretionary crimes such as drug-related offenses may no longer be sentenced to death but instead to correctional and rehabilitation programs.
But the new code explicitly pegs the age of criminal responsibility to the age of maturity or puberty under Sharia law, which in Iranian jurisprudence is 9 years for girls and 15 years for boys. A judge may, therefore, still sentence to death a girl as young as 9 or a boy as young as 15 convicted of a “crime against God” orqesascrime such as sodomy or murder if he determines that the child understood the nature and consequences of the crime.
Iran remains the world leader in executing people convicted of committing an offense while under the age of 18. The government maintains that Iran does not execute children because authorities wait for child offenders to reach 18 before executing them. In 2011 at least143 child offenderswere on death row in Iranian prisons, the vast majority for alleged crimes such as rape and murder. Death sentences for those crimes would not be affected by the amendments.
“The absolute prohibition on the execution of child offenders convicted of discretionary crimes such as drug trafficking is long overdue,” Stork said. “But it is of little consolation to the dozens of child offenders currently on death row for other crimes, and their families.”
The new amendments continue to allow the death penalty for activities that should not constitute crimes at all – certain types of consensual sexual relations outside of marriage – or that are not among the “most serious” crimes (typically those that cause the death of a victim) under international law. Other crimes that carry the death penalty under the new provisions include insulting the Prophet Mohammad and possessing or selling illicit drugs.
The revised penal code allows judges to rely on religious sources, including Sharia law andfatwasissued by high-ranking Shia clerics, to convict a person of apostasy or sentence a defendant convicted of adultery to stoning. This remains the case even though there is no crime of apostasy under the penal code, and stoning as a form of punishment for adultery has been removed from the new provisions.
The new provisions also expand upon broad or vaguely defined national security crimes that punish people for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association, or assembly. One troubling amendment concerns article 287, which defines the crime ofefsad-e fel arz, or “sowing corruption on earth.” Legislators have expanded the definition ofefsad-e fel arz, a previously ill-definedhaddcrime closely related tomoharebeh(enmity against God) that had been used to sentence to death political dissidents who allegedly engaged in armed activities or affiliated with “terrorist organizations.” The new definition also includes clearly nonviolent activities such as “publish[ing] lies,” “operat[ing] or manag[ing] centers of corruption or prostitution,” or “damage[ing] the economy of the country” if these actions “seriously disturb the public order and security of the nation.”
Under the current penal code, authorities have executedat least 30 peoplesince January 2010 on the charge of “enmity against God” or “sowing corruption on earth” for their alleged ties to armed or terrorist groups.At least 28 Kurdish prisonersare known to be awaiting execution on national security charges, including “enmity against God.” Human Rights Watch hasdocumentedthat in a number of these cases, the evidence suggests that Iran’s judicial authorities convicted, sentenced, and executed people simply because they were political dissidents, and not because they had committed terrorist acts.
Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because it is unique in its cruelty and finality, and is plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error. In addition, Iranian trials involving capital crimes have been replete withserious violationsof due process rights and international fair trial standards.
The Iranian authorities should abolish punishments retained or permitted under the new penal code that amount to torture or cruel and inhuman treatment, such as flogging, amputation, and stoning, Human Rights Watch said.
“These penal code amendments are nothing but a continuation of Iran’s reprehensible track record when it comes to administering justice in the courts,” Stork said. “Real criminal reform in Iran requires a wholesale suspension and overhaul of the Iranian penal code that has been a tool of systematic repression in the hands of the authorities, including the judiciary.”
HRANA News Agency – Paris-Geneva, September 11, 2012.The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), was informed of four new cases of arbitrary detention against human rights defenders in Iran. Several rights activists andjournalists have been taken into custody to serve prison sentences, while charges have been brought against others.
On September 8, 2012, Ms.Shiva Nazarahari, a founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) and member of the Campaign for Equality and child rights activist, was taken into custody at Evin prison. She had been summoned in late August 2012 to serve a four-year prison sentence upheld on appeal against her on January 8, 2011 on charges of “propaganda against the State”, “assembly with intention of conspiring against the Islamic government”, “disturbing the public mind” and “waging war against God”. The Observatory recalls that Ms. Nazarahari has been arrested many times over the past decade for her activities as a human rights defender: 20 days in 2002, three weeks in 2004, three months in 2009 and almost nine months in 2010.
In addition, on August 22, 2012, Mr.Navid Khanjani, also a founding member of the CHRR and a founding member of the Association to Oppose Discrimination in Education, and Mr.Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, blogger and human rights activist, were arrested along with dozens of other activists who had travelled to East Azerbaijan province to help the earthquake victims. Both have remained in detention although a number of other persons arrested with them have been released on bail.
In Mr. Khanjani’s case, his arrest and subsequent transfer to Evin prison in Tehran on September 8 raises fears that the authorities have decided to implement the 12-year imprisonment sentence against him that was upheld on appeal in August 2011. Mr. Khanjani was sentenced on charges of “spreading lies”, “creating unease in the public mind”, “propaganda against the system”, “membership of the CHRR” and “forming the Association to Oppose Discrimination in Education”. He indeed contributed in establishing this association after he was banned from continuing his academic studies for being a follower of the persecuted Baha’i faith. The Observatory recalls that he was previously detained for 65 days in 2010.
As for Mr. Ronaghi Maleki, he has been serving a 15-year prison sentence after being arrested on December 13, 2010 and convicted on charges of “membership of Iran-Proxy Internet Group”, “propaganda against the system”, “insulting the Iranian Supreme Leader and the President”. At the time of his latest arrest in August 2012, he had been on sick leave after undergoing several operations on his kidneys that were damaged after being repeatedly tortured during his detention, including 13 months in solitary confinement. His most recent arrest raises concerns about his physical and psychological integrity. His whereabouts remain unknown.
On September 8, 2012, Mr.Issa Saharkhiz, a journalist and founding member of the Iranian Association for the Defence of Freedomof Press, went on hunger strike and refused to take food and medicine after being transferred to the Rajaishahr prison far from his residence in Tehran. Mr. Saharkhiz had been in hospital for about six months until August 28 when he was sent to solitary confinement in Evin prison at the start of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. He was arrested on July 3, 2009 and sentenced to three years imprisonment on charges of “insulting the leader” and “propaganda against the system.” In August 2011, the authorities brought up a case dating back to 11 years ago, and sentenced him to two more years imprisonment on unspecified “press-related charges”. The sentence was reduced to 1.5 years by the appeals court.
Ms.Zhila Baniyaghoub, an award-winning journalist and women’s right activist, was taken into custody at Evin prison on September 2, 2012 to serve the one-year imprisonment sentence imposed on her in June 2010 after she was convicted on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “insulting the president”. The sentence, along with a 30-year ban from professional journalistic activities, was upheld on appeal in October of the same year. Ms. Baniyaghoub’s husband, economic journalist Mr.Bahman Ahmadi-Amou’i, has been serving a five-year prison sentence after being arrested on June 20, 2009 and convicted of “gathering and colluding with intent to harm national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system”, disrupting public security” and “insulting the president”. In mid-June 2012, when political prisoners in Evin prison’s Section 350 organised a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of demise of the late political prisoner Mr. Hoda Saber, prison officials sent Mr. Ahmadi-Amou’i and several other prisoners to solitary confinement. He was subsequently banished to the remote Rajaishahr prison. There, he was insulted and confined to an isolation cell for nearly 20 days. He remains in the same prison, even though his sentence does not provide for ‘imprisonment in exile.’
TheObservatoryis gravely concerned at thisnew series ofarrests and detentions of human rights defenders, whichmerelyaimatsanctioning their legitimate human rightsactivities and peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression. It particularly fears for their physical and psychological integrity in a context of widespread acts of torture and ill-treatment sufferedby human rights defenders while in detention. Moregenerally,this ongoing repressive climatealsoaimsatintimidating and silencing allhuman rights defenders in Iran.
The Observatory therefore urges the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to the judicial harassment of and drop all the charges against Ms. Shiva Nazarahari, Ms. Zhila Baniyaghoub and Messrs. Navid Khanjani, Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki, Issa Saharkhizand Bahman Ahmadi-Amou’i,and to guarantee their physical and psychological integrity under all circumstances. The Observatory more generally calls upon the authorities to release all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained and to conform to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights instruments ratified by Iran.
HRANA News Agency –Iranian businessman Mazyar Ebrahimi and 11 others have been held incommunicado since their arrest in June 2012. On 6 August the five women and seven men appeared on Iranian state television “confessing” to the killing of five Iranian nuclear scientists and academics since 2010. Amnesty International fears they could face the death penalty.
On 12 JuneMazyar Ebrahimi, founder of a cinema and television production company in Iraqi Kurdistan, was arrested in Tehran by Ministry of Intelligence security forces for “reasons of national security”. His family have not been informed of his whereabouts since and their requests for contact have been refused. Mazyar Ebrahimi has not been allowed a lawyer of his choosing since his arrest because his case is still “under investigation”.
On 6 August, Iranian state television channel IRTV1 broadcast a 39-minute documentary called “Terror Club” showing the alleged “confessions” of Mazyar Ebrahimi and 11 other men and women also arrested in June 2012 for involvement in the killings of five Iranian nuclear scientists and academics since 2010. The group said they had received weeks of military and intelligence training in Israel before carrying out the assassinations in Iran. The documentary did not show any evidence to support these claims, nor did it state whether they have been tried.. Another man who appeared in the documentary,Majid Jamali Fashi, was executed earlier on 15 May 2012. He had also appeared in an earlier broadcast in January 2011, aired before his trial in August 2011.
The use of televised “confessions” grievously undermines defendants’ right to a fair trial, in particular the presumption of innocence and the right not to be compelled to confess guilt and are particularly disturbing in cases like this one where defendants are accused of crimes which could lead to their being sentenced to death and executed. Those accused of crimes must be treated in accordance with international human rights law and must receive trials that comply with the most rigorous internationally recognized standards for fair trial, and without recourse to the death penalty.
Please write immediately in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language:
Call on the Iranian authorities to ensure that Mazyar Ebrahimi and the other 11 detainees have immediate access to their families and lawyers of their choosing and are protected from torture or other ill-treatment;
Call on them to ensure that all 12 suspects receive fair trials in accordance with international human rights law, without recourse to the death penalty, and reminding the authorities that televised “confessions” violate Articles 14 (2) and (3g) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a state party.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 22 OCTOBER 2012 TO:
Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid
Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Your Excellency
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
[care of] Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Secretary General High Council for
Mohammed Javad Larijani
c/o Office of the Head of the Judicary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave
South of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: [email protected]
(Subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
IRAN TV “Confessions” breach suspects’ rights
Majid Jamali Fashi, was executed on 15 May 2012 following a “confession” made on an earlier broadcast on Iranian state television in January 2011. He was arrested in January 2010 and charged with assassinating Tehran University professor, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, who had been killed by a bomb earlier that month.
The 11 other detainees who appear, in the documentary, to make “confessions” to the killings are: Behzad Abdoli; Firouz Yeganeh; Maryam Zargar; Ramtin Mahdavi Moshayi; Arash Kheyratgir; Maryam Izadi; Fouad Faramarzi; Nashmin Zareh; Mohsen Sedeghi-Azad; Ayoub Moslem; and Tara Bagheri. In August 2012, Iranian state television reported that 20 people have reportedly been arrested in connection with the killings but only 12 appeared to make “confessions” in the TV documentary.
Televised “confessions” have repeatedly been used by the authorities to incriminate individuals in custody. Many have later retracted these “confessions”, stating that they were coerced to make them, sometimes under torture or other ill-treatment.
Amnesty International is concerned that Mazyar Ebrahimi and the other 11 detainees have been held in incommunicado detention since June 2012, without access to their relatives or to lawyers. Incommunicado detention facilitates torture or other ill-treatment which may be used to coerce a detainee into making a “confession” which may subsequently be used as evidence in court. Prolonged incommunicado detention can itself amount to torture.
Access to a lawyer from the outset of detention is essential to ensuring a fair trial. International fair trial standards require that anyone accused of a serious crime has access to a lawyer not only during the trial itself, but also immediately on arrest and throughout all subsequent proceedings, in particular in cases of offences carrying the death penalty.
Amnesty International urges the Iranian authorities to end immediately their practice of broadcasting “confessions” and other incriminating testimonies obtained from individuals who may have yet to stand trial. Such practice constitutes a gross breach of detainees’ right to a fair trial and of Iran’s obligations under international human rights law. Article 14 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party, states that “Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law”, while Article 14 (3g) states that everyone has the right “not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt”.
In Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s TV “confession” broadcast on 11 August 2010, she appeared to implicate herself in the murder of her husband. She is facing execution by stoning for “adultery while married”.
On December 13, 2011, two members of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority, Hashem Sha’bani Amouri and Hadi Rashidi, were featured in a programme aired by Iran’s state-controlled television station, Press TV, in which they appeared to “confess” to having carried out “terrorist activities”. Subsequently, on 7 July 2012, both men were sentenced by Branch 2 of the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court after conviction of charges including the vaguely-worded offences of “enmity against God and corruption on earth” (moharebeh va ifsad fil-arz), “gathering and colluding against state security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”.
Another Ahwazi Arab man, Taha Heidarian, was shown in the same programme making a “confession” in connection with the killing of a law enforcement official in April 2011 amidst widespread protests in Khuzestan. On or around 19 June 2012, he and three other Ahwazi Arab men were executed in Karoun Prison, according to activists close to the family, after apparently being convicted by a Revolutionary Court of “enmity against God and corruption on earth” in connection with the killing.
Name: Mazyar Ebrahimi, Majid Jamali Fashi
Gender m/f: Mazyar Ebrahimi (M); Majid Jamali Fashi (M); other detainees are male and female�
UA: 258/12 Index: MDE 13/062/2012 Issue Date: 10 September 2012
HRANA News Agency – At least 35 activists Helping refugees of Earthquake were arrested tonight in Haris, Azarbaijan, after their relief camp was attacked by Iranian Security forces. In Addition, one activist was arrested yesterday.
HRANA News Agency – The West’s single-minded focus on the nuclear dossier has permitted Iranian authorities to widen their violations of human rights.
With tensions mounting over Iran’s nuclear program, the West has dealt the Tehran regime crippling blows on several fronts, including through sanctions, the targeted killing of scientists, and cyber operations such as the Stuxnet virus. Tehran is no doubt reeling but regime leaders have spotted a silver lining: The West’s single-minded focus on the nuclear dossier has permitted them to widen their violations of human rights.
HRANA News Agency – Yalda celebrations organized by youth groups and social activists in Gorgan, Golestan Province, was cancelled after police and security agents raided the ceremony.Yalda is the Persian Winter Solstice Celebration observed on the longest night of the year.
According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), more than one hundred young citizens and social and cultural activists from Golestan Province planned Yalda celebrations which was ultimately cancelled after security agents raided the ceremony.
Prior to the celebrations, all the expenses were paid and preparations were made for a modest ceremony planned to be held in the garden of a restaurant.Guests intended to recite poems, read stories and eat dinner.
One of the organizer of Yalda celebrations in Gorgan told HRANA, “This ceremony was not political in nature at all.It was a small and simple gathering to observe Yalda, a thousand-year-old Iranian tradition.Before the celebrations began, police raided the restaurant and threw all the guests out.Then security agents cut off the electricity and prevented us from carrying out the program.”
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HRANA – On the morning of Thursday, May 20, 2010, a group of plain clothes agents attacked Mohammad Ali Abtahi’s car with tear gas, cables and knives.
According to Parleman News, Mohammad Ali Abtahi described the incident in the following manner: “This morning, at the end of a memorial for Mirza Javad Tehrani held in Shahre Ray that I was participating, I was attached by a number of plain clothes as I was exiting the event, and then in the middle of the highway, near the holly site a car turned in front of me and a group of motorcyclists attacked my car with kicks, cables and knives and broke the windows and threw tear gas inside my car and I was miraculously able to exit the area with broken windows and teary eyes. It was a vicious attack. No one came to help me. Very confident and without fear. God had mercy on me.”
Fars News Agency had its own, completely different, version of the story, offering the following description: “Abtahi who was supposed to participate in this event faced an attack by a group of individuals who intended to physically attack him, but police forces prevented an attack on his person. Nevertheless, Abtahi’s car was damaged, such that its windows were broken.”
HRANA – Mir Hossein Mousavi’s head of security, known as Haj Ahmad Yazdanfar, has been arrested.
According to Kalameh, Yazdanfar who is Mousavi’s most senior bodyguard and head of security was arrested moments ago by police forces.
We will post a more complete report on this breaking news as soon as possible.
May 4, 2010