Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding

Flogging in Takab: 17 Gold Mine Workers Received Lashes for Protesting Against the Layoff of Their Coworkers

ILNA (Iranian Labour News Agency) / ABF translation
May 25, 2016

“ILNA: The rulings against all 17 workers, who had been condemned by the Azarbaijan-e Gharbi Courthouse following the complaint by their Employer at Aqdareh gold mine, were carried out during the past few days.

Vahid Yari, the workers’ attorney during their trial, told ILNA: ‘These workers were tried in two separate cases against them by Branch 101 of the Criminal Court of Takab and Branch 10 of the Appeals Court of Azarbaijan-e Gharbi.’ He added: ‘Overall, the defendants had been condemned to imprisonment, paying a fine, and receiving lashes. Ultimately, by the plaintiff’s withdrawal of the complaint and the judge’s pardon, the imprisonment punishment was nullified but pay a fine and lashes were carried out.

According to the ILNA sources, these rulings were carried out during the last days of the previous month, the cases are terminated, and the workers are free.

This attorney [Mr. Yari] continued: ‘In the first case, commonly filed by Puya Zarkan Company as employer and one of its guards against 8 seasonal mine workers, eight individuals were tried and all condemned for ‘preventing people from doing their business by clamoring, insulting a company’s guard, illegally arresting a guard and destroying his clothes, and intentionally destroying the company’s panel.’

He [the attorney] added: ‘Based on this, each defendant from the first to fifth row were condemned to 150 lashes and 5 years imprisonment. This ruling was reduced to 100 lashes and 37 months imprisonment during the Appeals Court.

In regards to the ruling against the defendants in rows six to eight, Yari added: ‘After establishing culpability of these individuals, each was condemned to 74 lashes and five years imprisonment that was ultimately reduced to 50 lashes and 37 months imprisonment during the Appeals Court.’

The attorney of the Aqdareh gold mine workers added: ‘The sixth row defendant was separately condemned to three years imprisonment which was not change during the Appeals Court.’

Regarding the second trial against 9 seasonal mine workers of the Aqdareh gold mine, the attorney stated: ‘In this case, the workers were charged and all were condemned for preventing people from doing their business by clamoring.’ He added: ‘Based on the lower court decision, the defendants in rows first and fourth were condemned to six months imprisonment and 74 lashes each that was reduced to six months imprisonment and 50 lashes.’

In regards to the ruling against the other defendants, Yari added: ‘Based on the lower court decision, defendants rows two and three and five to nine were condemned to paying 500 thousand Tumans fine and 50 lashes each. Ultimately, the fine was fixed but the lash ruling was reduced to 30 lashes for each defendant during the Appeals Court.’ He added: ‘In addition to this punishment, the defendant in row 9 was separately condemned to three years imprisonment which was dropped after the plaintiff withdrew the complaint.’

It should be mentioned that in December of 2014, Puya Zarkan Company, as the main contractor of the Aqdareh gold mine, laid off 350 of its seasonal workers after their contract was terminated. In protest to this action by the employer, a widespread gathering of the laid off workers took place in front of the guard station of the mine. After guards clashed with the protesters, a worker, under psychological pressure and in protest to losing his job, committed suicide on December 27, 2014 around 8 p.m. At that time, based on a complaint filed by the employer, the judiciary issued an indictment against 17 workers charged with sedition.”

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."