UN Human Rights Committee Sharply Criticizes Increasing Flogging Sentences in Iran
As flogging sentences issued and carried out by Iranian judges and judicial authorities are on the rise, during a meeting of the UN Human Rights Committee today in which the Iranian government’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is under review, members of the Committee sharply criticized Iranian authorities at the meeting for Iran’s use of inhumane punishments such as flogging. According to the representative of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran who is currently at the meeting in Geneva, UN officials criticized Iran’s refusal to provide statistics about flogging sentences to the Human Rights Council while continuing to routinely dole out flogging sentences. Last week, a source close to the case of actress Marzieh Vafamehr told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that she was sentenced to one year in prison and 90 lashes. Also last week, student activist Payman Aref was lashed at Evin Prison as a part of his sentence, before he was allowed to leave upon completion of his prison term. Last month, the flogging sentence ofSomayeh Tohidloo, a women’s rights activist, was also carried out at Evin Prison. “It appears there are continuing reports of flogging for minor offenses, including most recently reports that the actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been sentenced to 90 lashes merely for appearing in a film,” said Mr. Neuman, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, during the Monday meeting. He added that members of the Council have asked the Iranian authorities to present numbers of flogging sentences and limb amputation sentences to the United Nations, but that Iranian authorities have refrained from providing this information, failing to include any statistics in their report. According to Article 7 of the ICCPR, of which Iran is a signatory, no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Iran’s Islamic Penal Code allows for the punishment of flogging in a wide range of crimes. The Periodic Report of the UN Secretary General, published in March 2011, states that Iranian authorities claim that such punishments in the Islamic Penal Code are not considered torture or inhumane or degrading. “They claim that such sentences serve to prevent crime and replace imprisonment of individuals,” it said. Kaleme website wrote on Monday, 7 October that Amin Niaifar, an accomplished Mechanical Engineering student at Tehran University’s College of Engineering, has also received 30 lashes for “insulting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” According to Kaleme, Niaifar, who is currently inside Ward 350 of Evin Prison, was returned to the ward after the flogging was carried out. “He was returned to the Ward without any medical or drug treatment though he was in severe pain as a result of the flogging,” wrote Kaleme. Niaifar, who is scheduled to be released next week when his prison sentence is complete, was taken to Evin Prison Court this morning, on the weekly visitation day. Niaifar, 22, is only one of several pro-Green Movement prisoners who are currently serving time inside Ward 350 of Evin. He was arrested during the Ashura Day protests in Tehran (27 December 2009). and Judge Pirabassi, Head of Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to six months in prison, 1.5 years’ suspended imprisonment, and 30 lashes. According to Kaleme, Niaifar was one of the highest-ranking participants in Iran’s Nationwide University Entrance Examination and an outstanding student of Tehran University’s College of Engineering. He served some time inside solitary cells in Ward 209 of Evin Prison after Ashura Day 2009, and was later released on bail. After an appeals court upheld his sentence this summer, he was returned to Evin Prison. He was unable to enroll at his university during the new academic year as a result.