This report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, states that in part that in 2016, governments “turned a blind eye to war crimes, pushed through deals that undermine the right to claim asylum, passed laws that violate free expression, incited murder of people simply because they are accused of using drugs, justified torture and mass surveillance, and extended draconian police powers.”
Governments also targeted refugees and migrants for scapegoating. Amnesty International’s Annual Report documents violations of international law by 36 countries, who unlawfully sent refugees back to a country where their rights were at risk.
In an article published by People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the following summarizes the section regarding Iran:
“Iranian authorities heavily suppressed the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and religious belief, arresting and imprisoning peaceful critics and others after grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts.
“Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common and widespread, and were committed with impunity.
“Floggings, amputations and other cruel punishments continued to be applied. Members of religious and ethnic minorities faced discrimination and persecution.
Women and girls faced pervasive violence and discrimination. The authorities made extensive use of the death penalty, carrying out hundreds of Executions, some in public. At least two juvenile offenders were executed.”
The UN Human Rights Council renewed the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human rights in Iran in March, but Iran’s government continued to deny the Special Rapporteur entry, and to prevent access by other UN Human rights experts.
Iran’s government and the EU discussed initiating a renewed bilateral Human rights dialogue.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child criticized continued Executions of juvenile offenders, and the impact of public Executions on the mental health of children who witnessed them after conducting its third and fourth periodic review of Iran. The Committee also denounced the continued discrimination against girls, as well as children of religious and ethnic minorities, and the young age at which girls, in particular, become criminally liable.
According to the PMOI article, Amnesty also reported that the authorities “cracked down further on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, arbitrarily arresting and imprisoning peaceful critics on vague national security charges. Those targeted included Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, bloggers, students, trade union activists, film makers, musicians, poets, women’s rights activists, ethnic and religious minority rights activists, and environmental and anti-death penalty campaigners.”
By year end, several prisoners of conscience committed themselves to hunger strikes in protest of their unjust imprisonment, and to expose the abusive nature of Iran’s criminal justice system.
“The authorities intensified their repression of Human rights defenders, sentencing them to long prison terms for their peaceful activities. Courts increasingly cited criticism of Iran’s Human rights record on social media and communicating with international Human rights mechanisms, particularly the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran and Human rights organizations based abroad including Amnesty International as evidence of ‘criminal’ activism deemed threatening to national security,” reports Amnesty and the PMOI.
Musical expression faced disruption and forcible cancellation of performances, including some licensed by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Private mixed-gender parties were deemed “socially perverse” or “un-Islamic”, and hundreds were arrested and sentenced, many to flogging, Amnesty reported.
And further, that media continued to be censored, foreign satellite TV broadcasts were jammed, newspapers closed or suspended, including Bahar and Ghanoun, and the women’s rights magazine Zanan-e Emrooz was forced to suspend publication.
Amnesty also reported that a judicial order added WhatsApp, Line and Tango to the list of blocked social media sites in February. The order already included Facebook and Twitter. The Revolutionary Guards Cyber Crime Unit “blocked or closed down hundreds of Telegram and Instagram accounts, and arrested or summoned for interrogation the administrators of more than 450 groups and channels in Telegram, WhatsApp and Instagram, including several hundred fashion designers and employees of fashion boutiques, as part of a massive crackdown on social media activities deemed ‘threatening to moral security’.”
An open letter to President Rouhani from the suspended Association of Iranian Journalists urged him, unsuccessfully, to honor his 2013 election campaign pledge to lift its suspension, and 92 student groups urged the President “to release universities from the grip of fear and repression.” The authorities did not permit the Teachers’ Trade Association of Iran to renew its license, and sentenced several of its members on charges that included “membership of an illegal group” to long prison terms, Amnesty reported. As well as, “The authorities continued to suppress peaceful protests and subject protesters to beatings and arbitrary detention. Numerous individuals remained convicted of ‘gathering and colluding against national security’ for attending peaceful protests.”
They also reported on a new Law on Political Crimes, adopted in January and effective in June, criminalized all expression deemed to be ‘against the management of the country and its political institutions and domestic and foreign policies’ and made ‘with intent to reform the affairs of the country without intending to harm the basis of the establishment’.
“Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common, especially during interrogation, and was used primarily to force ‘confessions’,” wrote Amnesty, adding, “Detainees held by the Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards were routinely subjected to prolonged solitary confinement amounting to torture. The authorities systematically failed to investigate allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, sometimes threatening to subject complainants to further torture and harsh sentences.”
Although confessions obtained under torture are inadmissible under the 2015 Code of Criminal Procedure, Judges continued to admit them as evidence against the defendant. Amnesty wrote, “The Code failed to set out the procedure that judges and prosecutors must follow to investigate allegations of torture and ensure that confessions were made voluntarily. Other provisions of the Code, such as the provision guaranteeing the detainee’s right to access a lawyer from the time of arrest and during the investigation stage, were frequently ignored in practice, facilitating torture.”
Political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, are frequently denied access to adequate medical care, by Judicial authorities, particularly the Office of the Prosecutor, and prison authorities. This was often done to punish prisoners or to coerce “confessions”, according to the report.
The report also claims that Judicial authorities “continued to impose and carry out cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments that amounted to torture, including floggings, blindings and amputations. These were sometimes carried out in public.”
Many human rights abuses were reported by Amnesty, including these listed below:
In April, in Esfahan Province, a man and woman convicted of “having an illegitimate relationship” were sentenced to 100 lashes each.
In May, in Qazvin Province, the authorities arrested 35 young women and men for “dancing and mingling at a graduation party… while half-naked and consuming alcohol” and convicted them within 24 hours of engaging in acts “incompatible with chastity which disturbed the public opinion”. The authorities carried out the 99-lash floggings to which they were sentenced at a special court hearing the same day.
In West Azerbaijan Province, 17 miners, who had engaged in a protest against employment conditions and dismissals at the Agh Darreh gold mine in 2014, were sentenced to between 30 and 100 lashes.
In June, a criminal court in Yazd Province sentenced nine miners to floggings ranging from 30 to 50 lashes.
In July, journalist and blogger Mohammad Reza Fathi was sentenced by an appeal court to 459 lashes on charges of “publishing lies” and “creating unease in the public mind” through his writings.
In November, in Tehran, a man was blinded in both eyes, in retribution for blinding a four-year-old girl in June 2009.
In an act that breached medical ethics, Doctors associated with the official Legal Medicine Organization of Iran provided the Supreme Court with “expert” advice on how the implementation of blinding sentences was medically feasible.
In April, at Mashhad Central Prison, officials amputated four fingers from the right hand and the toes from the left foot of a man convicted of armed robbery.
In December, at Urumieh Central Prison, judicial authorities amputated four fingers from the right hands of two brothers convicted of armed robbery.
Amnesty wrote that, “The Special Court for the Clergy and the Revolutionary Courts remained particularly susceptible to pressure from security and intelligence forces to convict defendants and impose harsh sentences,” and that, “Officials exercising judicial powers, including from the Ministry of Intelligence and Revolutionary Guards, consistently flouted due process provisions of the 2015 Code of Criminal Procedure. These include provisions protecting the right to access a lawyer from the time of arrest and during investigations and the right to remain silent.”
Defense lawyers are frequently denied full access to case files, and prevented from meeting defendants, until shortly before trial, and pre-trial detainees are frequently held in prolonged solitary confinement, with little or no access to their families and lawyers, according to the report.
“The Office of the Prosecutor used Article 48 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to prevent detainees accessing lawyers of their own choosing, telling them that they were not on the list of lawyers approved by the Head of the Judiciary, even though no official list had been issued,” and “Several foreign nationals and Iranians with dual nationality were detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison with little or no access to their families, lawyers and consular officials,” are also abuses that were reported.
Amnesty reports that although “the authorities accused the prisoners of being involved in a foreign-orchestrated ‘infiltration project’ pursuing the ‘soft overthrow’ of Iran, in reality, the convictions “appeared to stem from their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association.”