Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding

Judiciary Official: Ministry of Justice in Mazandaran Handed Down Hundreds of Thousands of Lashes in 2016-2017

Zohre Karami
Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) / Translation by ABC
June 30, 2017
Newspaper article

Sari – IRNA – The judicial deputy of the Ministry of Justice in Mazandaran said that 719,288 judicial cases were put together in the province in the last [Iranian] year.

According to reporting from IRNA, Hojjat ol-Islam Seyyed Khalil Isma’eilnejhad added that “27,596 cases of this total had to do with desecration and disrespect [of religious sanctities]" before a Friday sermon.

Isma’eilnejhad declared that 26,637 of the cases related to theft, and that 20,000 cases were drawn up by the province’s Ministry of Justice office for failure to pay debts.

“Moreover, 8,792 cases for fraud were opened in the province’s courts last year, and 8,000 cases for breaking contracts,” he said.

Based on the last census conducted in the country, Mazandaran’s population numbers about 3,300,000. If each case had even just one plaintiff and one defendant, the number of cases put together by the Ministry of Justice office would mean that about half the province’s population were involved in the suits.

The Ministry of Justice's judicial deputy said that Mazandaran courts had issued verdicts for billions of tomans in financial penalties and blood money and hundreds of thousands of lashes in order to serve justice in this period.

Isma’eilnejhad said that hundreds of thousands of square meters of seized land had been returned to its original owners as a result of such cases and verdicts, adding that misappropriation of national funds had also reached a minimum.

The official expressed regret over a climbing crime rate, noting lack of a proper understanding of Islam as the most significant reason for it: “In a province with [a long-standing Shi’ite] background where religious scholars of great value have been nurtured, such a problem might prove a disgrace.”

“Sociologists and theorists believe that it takes three generations to root out criminal thought. In Islamic religious law, however, this important work can be accomplished in just one generation with appeals to the holy Quran and the guidance of major figures of the faith” he added.

Isma’eilnejhad noted that “At the time when the world was stricken with ignorance and forgetfulness and men would lay with their own family members, the Prophet (pbh) disciplined and educated great men like Ali, Salman, Meghdad, Abu-Zarr, and other major figure with a heavenly book, and kindled a spiritual light in their hearts.”

The official said that some speculation over the role of lack of education and unemployment in criminality was incorrect, explaining that “At present, the number of people held in Mazandaran’s prisons is 7,428: only 22% of them are illiterate and 16% were unemployed. We see here that lack of education and unemployment can’t be important factors in criminality.”

Isma’eilnejhad named “cultural assault” as the significant factor in criminality and sinning: “The enemies of [our] godly regime propagate their ominous aims among the youth by way of internet and satellite television.”

Wishing all well on the occasion of Iran’s Judiciary Week, he added that “These enemies, with their blind hearts, mistakenly think when making their calculations that by removing an ideologue, they can also destroy an ideology.”

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."