Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding

Public Flogging in Farahan: Three Old Farmers Feceived Lashes for Drawing WaterFromLocal Wells

ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency)
September 29, 2004

"According to a report by the legal correspondent of ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency), more than a hundred villagers from Tabrateh near Farahan gathered in front of the public office of the Head of Judiciary and demanded attention to their problems. In addition to their demands to meet with the Head of Judiciary, they also insisted on gaining access to the public office.

One of the farmers explained the reason for their demonstrations and stated: ‘Our village is composed of a few thousand residents who are all farmers, including the younger generations who have returned home following their studies at university. The villagers have dredged the wells and use the water for irrigation of their farms. However, following complaints by the Department of Underground Water Protection, the Farahan court has accused us of illegal use of wells and has sentenced us to flogging and fines.'

The 72-year-old man, who identified himself as the father of martyr Mohammad Reza Taborteh, said: ‘The court sentenced me, an old man, to 60 lashes of flogging in public. We are farmers and we will remain farmers no matter how they treat us. Farming is our life.'

When two locals noticed the surprise on the part of the reporter, they produced two copies of Farahan court verdicts proving they had in fact been subjected to flogging.

An 85-year-old man tearfully said: ‘They sentenced me to 60 lashes, 25 days of detention and a fine of 120,000 tumans.'

A 60-year-old man said: ‘I have two mentally handicapped children but I too was sentenced to 60 lashes and a fine of 500,000 tumans.'

In accordance with section H of article 45 of the Fair Water Distribution Code approved in 1982, those who fail to comply with the prohibitions set against digging wells or using water reservoirs, will not only be held responsible for restoration and payment of the accrued damages but will also be sentenced to 10 to 50 lashes or 15 days to three months of probationary imprisonment.

Based on reports by ISNA, according to statements by local residents, they have been sentenced to flogging in excess of the 50 lashes required by law, and fees in addition to imprisonment, while the law does not specify payment of fees as a required penalty."

ABF Note


Findings of guilt in the Islamic Republic of Iran's Judicial Proceedings

The Islamic Republic of Iran's criminal justice system regularly falls short of the standards for due process necessary for impartiality, fairness, and efficacy. Suspects are often held incommunicado and not told of the reason for their detainment. Defendants are frequently prohibited from examining the evidence used against them. Defendants are sometimes prohibited from having their lawyers present in court. Additionally, confessions, made under duress or torture, are commonly admitted as proof of guilt. Because Iran's courts regularly disregard principles essential to the proper administration of justice, findings of guilt may not be evaluated with certainty.

Corporal Punishment: the Legal context in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic's criminal code recognizes corporal punishment for a wide range of offenses: consumption of alcohol, theft, adultery, "flouting" of public morals, and mixing of the sexes in public. Judges have the latitude to mete out corporal punishment for those sentenced to death. In such cases, the flogging is carried out before death to maximize the suffering of defendant. Aside from flogging, the Islamic Republic also employs amputations as a punishment for theft. In such cases, the defendant is taken to a hospital and put under anesthesia as his hand or foot is amputated. In some cases the left foot and right hand are cut off, making it difficult for the condemned to walk, even with the assistance of a cane or crutches.

The Islamic Republic's Systematic Violation of its International Obligations under International Law

The use of corporal punishment is contrary to international law and is addressed in several international agreements. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Iran has ratified, states that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Identical language is also used in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran is also a party to. The strongest expression of international disapproval is contained in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). This treaty defines torture as, "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as ... punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed." Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has yet to sign the CAT, the prohibition on torture is now considered jus cogens and, therefore, part of customary international law. Furthermore, even though the norm against corporal punishment is not yet a jus cogens, there is increasing evidence that it is illegal under international human rights law.[1] In Osbourne v. Jamaica, the Committee Against Torture (a body of experts responsible for monitoring compliance with the Convention) held that "corporal punishment constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment contrary to Article 7 of the Convention." The Islamic Republic of Iran's systematic violations of its obligations under international law have been addressed by the UN General Assembly multiple times, most recently in December 2007. In Resolution 62/168, the UN expressed deep concern with Iran's continued flouting of international human rights law, particularly, "confirmed instances of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations."