Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding

Death Due to Flogging in Tehran: A Man Received 80 Lashes for Having a Satellite Dish

Irannews / ABF translation
February 28, 2004

“Amnesty International is an independent international organization for promoting human rights in the world. According to this organization, Mohsen Mofidi, 35, and his two sisters, Mahdis, 19, and Nika, 17, were arrested at their house in Tehran in July of 2003 for having a satellite dish. Later the sisters stated that they were beaten by a chain and a stick during their arrest. Following a judicial investigation, Mohsen Mofidi was charged with having an illegal satellite dish, possession of alcohol diluted in medication, and encouraging his two younger sisters to corruption.

According to Amnesty International, a judge condemned the two young women, one under 18, to 130 lashes in August of 2003.

Mohsen Mofidi was condemned to four months imprisonment, a fine, and 80 lashes. According to this report, after the lash ruling was carried out, the two sisters fled to Canada in 2004. Meanwhile, their brother, Mohsen Mofidi, was transferred to the Qasr Prison.”

According to this report, following the amnesty issued by the Supreme Leader because of the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on February 11, [2004], Mohsen Mofidi was released from the prison after several weeks. Nevertheless, he had to suffer the 80 lashes. According to several reports, he was denied access to an attorney in spite of his multiple requests.

During these few weeks, Mr. Mofidi developed a serious lung and sinus infection. He was hospitalized at the prison clinic and lost consciousness several times.

According to the Amnesty International report, in spite of the medical reports indicating that his lung infection persisted, the prison agents considered him suitable to receive 80 lashes. …The report added: ‘He was finally victimized by those who considered him suitable to receive 80 lashes on February 18. The vain death of Mohsen Mofidi tells us that the judiciary in Iran is not responding to the needs of citizens in this country and has failed to protect the laws and basic freedoms.’”

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."