Illegal Interrogation Centres are Undermining the Judiciary's Independence - October 2016
In continuation of its monthly reports, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights has reviewed the situation of human rights in Iran during the month of Mehr 1395 [22 September to 21 October 2016].
The Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights, which is presided over by Shirin Ebadi, has emphasized that “illegal interrogation and investigation centers were undermining the Judiciary's impartiality and independence” and has asked the Judiciary to resolve this issue, which it labelled as a major problem in the Judiciary.
Therefore, this people-instituted organization has cited some reports received from a number of political activists indicating that some judicial cases are currently being heard and processed by illegal centres, where not only Judiciary officials were absent, but in addition, the summoned individuals were unaware of the identity of their interrogators. The Centre has announced: “Indictment in such circumstances can be biased and prejudiced, because a case is being investigated in which the roles of the plaintiff, the investigation officer and the interrogator are all undertaken by a non-judicial institution, whose staff and executives are unknown to people who have been summoned to appear.”
The Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights also has referred to the high number of Iran's per capital prisoners compared to international standards, and has urged the Iranian government to respect the human rights obligations it has assumed under different human rights conventions, and to take steps towards reforming the laws and decriminalizing many of the behaviours that are essentially non-criminal in nature, and finally to take immediate action to ensure prisons enjoy the necessary space and other resources and facilities.
Furthermore, in its report, which is published in both Farsi and English languages, this people-instituted organisation has reviewed the situation of human rights in Iran under the three main headings of “Civil and political rights”, “social and economic rights”, and “cultural heritage and the environment”.
According to the website of the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights, the text of the report by the said center for the month of Mehr 1395, which has been published on 7 Aban 1395 [28 October 2016], is as follows:
A Brief Report on Human Rights Situation in Iran in September-October 2016
Iran's judiciary has numerous problems. Under the constitution, Head of Judiciary is exempt from accountability for negligence and his illegal actions.
According to some political activists, they have been summoned for interrogation to some centres where not only the attendees at the meeting were not judicial authorities, but they were in fact unknown to the summoned individuals. This is while the required characteristics and qualifications of the Judicial officers have been described clearly by the law. Indictment in such circumstances can be biased and prejudiced, because in the case under investigation, the roles of the plaintiff, the investigation officer and the interrogator are all undertaken by a non-judicial institution, whose staff and executives are unknown to the individuals who have been summoned to appear.
Therefore, the presence of “illegal interrogation and investigation centres” are one of the major problems of the Judiciary, which are undermining its impartiality and independence.
Lack of adequate space in prisons, and the lack of educational, sports, health and medical treatment facilities are further problems for the Judiciary. Statistics show that the number of per capita prisoners in Iran is higher than the international standards. Although, in a bid to reduce the number of prisoners, several directives have been issued and circulated among judges about the options of early amnesty or converting the imprisonment sentence to fines for some convicts, there are some laws which have increased instances of criminalization, have prevented the reduction in prisoners number. This is while the restrictions imposed on political activities and the prevailing censorship in Iranian society have also led to an increases in the number of political and ideological prisoners in the country.
This is while the authorities have always emphasized on the need for prisons to act as educational institutions in order change criminal behaviours. However, unfortunately, the prisons have been turned into places where the physical and mental health and well-being of inmates have been, and are beging, threatened.
The report also provides a summary of the human rights situation in Iran during the month of Mehr 1395, as follows. This report is based on information published by various media channels and websites, whose accuracy has been verified. The report is appearing under three separate sections, and in Farsi and English languages.
Human Rights Situation in Iran in September-October 2016
Section 1: Civil, Cultural and Political Rights
A) Situation of Nonconformist Political and Social Activists
1. During this month, more than 43 people were detained and the names of them have been specified as: Bahareh Noruzi, Rohieh Nariman, Farzad Delaram, Siamak Honarvar, Marjan Gholampur, Mojgan Gholampur, Farbod Shademan, Farzad Shademan, Parisa Ruhizadegan, Shamim Akhlaqi, Sahba Farahbakhsh, Sahba Moslehi, Ahdieh Enayati, Mahyar Sefidi, Shadi Aqdam, Varqa Kaviani, Sorush Iqani and Maryam Eslami – 17 Baha’i citizens; Siran Khurnika, Artin Hassanzadeh, Bahreh Arefi, Parvin Rezaei and Adel Rashidi – five citizens from Marivan – and Mohammad Najafi, a lawyer.
Moreover, the prosecutor of Qazvin has reported the detention of one individual due to “blasphemy and insulting clerics in social networks”. The prosecutor of Ajabshir has reported the detention of one individual because of blasphemy and the police of Iranshahr have reported the detention of two bloggers.
On the other hand, some news sources have reported the detention of Molla Hassan Fathi, Behzad Moradi, Hajar Fareqi, Mokhtar Salehi, Mohammad Salehi, Yaqub Nureh, Kamal Aqdam, Ali Aqdam, Abdolghafur Asvar and Mohammad Asvar – 10 citizens from Bukan; Abdolmalek Heidari, Mohammad Heidari, Emad Heidari, Amer Silavi and Aref Navaseri – five citizens of Ahvaz; and Ameneh Isazadeh, a citizen from Sirik.
It should be noted that some of the detainees were released temporarily on bail after a few days until the date of their trial.
2. Manuchehr Kholusi – a Baha’i citizen – was sent to prison to serve one year in jail and Navid Kamran – a civil activist – was sent to prison to serve one-year imprisonment.
3. Esmaeil Abdi – a trade union activist – was sentenced to six years imprisonment in the appeal court, Narges Mohamamdi - Vice President of the Center for Defenders of Human Rights who is currently serving a prison term – was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment by the Appeal Court, which ordered she should serve at least 10 years in prison; Athena (Fatemeh) Daeimi – a civil activist – was sentenced to seven years in jail in the Appeal Court; Omid Alishenas – a civil activit – was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in the appeal court; Asu Rostami – a civil activist – was sentenced to two years in jail in the appeal court and Ali Nuri – a civil activist - was sentenced to two years imprisonment in the appeal court.
Moreover, Siamak Namazi – a citizen with dual nationality– was sentenced to 10 years in jail, Mohammad Baqer Namazi – a citizen with dual nationality – was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, Nazar Zaka was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Kamran Qaderi – an Iranian-Austrian citizen – was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, Sorush Farhadian – a journalist – was sentenced to seven months in jail, Mehrdad Saburi – a labour activist – was sentenced to one year in jail, Shahu Sadeqi – a labour activist – was sentenced to three months imprisonment term, Omid Ahmadi – a labour activist – was sentenced to one year in prison, Rojin Ebrahimi – a labour activist – was sentenced to one year imprisonment term, Aram Mohammadi – a labour activist – was sentenced to three months in prison and Delnia Saburi – a labour activist – was sentenced to one year imprisonment, Jafar Azimzadeh and Shapur Ehsanirad – two labour activists – were sentenced to 11 years in jail, Sina Qalandari – a journalist – was sentenced to two years in prison, Mohammad Dabat, Saeid Albueini, Yaber (Jaber) Kanani, Ahmad Dabat, Abdolemam Kanani, Kazem Chananian, Qasem Sadi Alekasir, Mohammad Kanani, Mostafa Esmaeili, Abdollah Musavi, Karim Kanani, Mohammad Alekasir, Mohammad Saguri and Ali Beitalivi – 15 citizens from Shush – were sentenced to two years in jail for each of them, Hadi Dovaleh Alebueini, Hamed Kanani, Qasem Mehrieh and Abbas Kanani – four citizens from Shush – were sentenced to a fine of 20,000,000 Toman for each of them. On the other hand, Mizan News Agency that is attributed to the Judiciary has reported the issuance of ten years sentences for “F-H-A”, “A-A” due to cooperation with the USA.
4. The trial sessions of Ahmad Montazeri – the son of Ayatollah Montazeri; Jafar Azimzadeh and Shapur Ehsanirad – two labour activists – were hold.
5. Mohammad Hossein Karrubi – the son of Mehdi Karrubi; Masud Heidari – the editor in chief of ILNA News Agency – were briefed in the magistrate court and Siavash Kaliaei – a follower of Parsan religious sect – were interrogated in the magistrate court of Takestan. Ali Asghar Shafieian – the manager of Ensaf News Website; and Seyyed Sadeq Kashani – a lawyer – was summoned to the magistrate court.
B) Situation Regarding Cultural Rights
1. Press Jury has found “Qanun” Newspaper and “Seda” and “Yalesarat” weeklies guilty.
2. The relevant officials have prevented the lectures of Mohsen Armin – a member of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organisation – in Allameh Tabatabaei University and Emadodin Baqi – a human rights activist and author – in the Sharif Industrial University.
3. The relevant officials have prevented concerts by the “Gozar” Band at the Melal Cultural Centre, and by the [pop singer] Zanyar Khosravi in Gorgan.
4. The relevant officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting prevented the broadcast of trailers for the movie “Robudeh Shodeh (Stolen)” on Iranian state TV channels.
5. Officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting have banned Rozbeh Bemani – a song lyricist - from state TV.
6. The relevant officials have prevented 46 Baha’i citizens from continuing their education, because of what they described as their "incomplete" dossiers.
7. A government official has reported the existence of 44 mud and clay school buildings in North Khorasan Province. Moreover, the Ministry of Education has reported that 315,000 students have not been registered in the first and second grades of high school yet, even though two weeks have passed since the start of the current academic year.
C) Other Instances of Human Rights Abuse
1. At least two individuals were executed during the month. The complete names of some of them are still not clear but judicial authorities or government-controlled media have confirmed their executions. Some of the names are as follows:
‘Mehdi-N” was executed in public in Neyshabur. State-controlled media have reported that his crime was murder and rape. “Saeid-T” was executed in public in Neyriz. A Judiciary official has reported that his crime as murder.
On the other hand, some unofficial news websites have reported the executions in the prisons of Parsilun in Khorramabad, Rajaei Shahr, central prison of Orumiyeh, central prison of Minab, Tabriz, Shahrud, Gorgan, Miandoab, Qezelhesar and Taybad. This news report has not been confirmed or denied by the Judiciary officials or state-controlled media.
2. State-controlled media have reported the issuance of execution sentence in Mashhad – without mentioning his name – due to murder; Arash and two individuals – without mentioning their names – in Tehran because of the crime of murder; “M-J” in Fars Province because of the crime of first-degree murder; three individuals – without mentioning their names – in Shiraz due to Moharebeh [declaring war against God] and "Corruption in the Earth" and one individual – who is under the age of 18 – in Varamin because of murder. The Judiciary official has reported the issuance of death sentence in public in Hormozgan Province. In addition, state-controlled media have reported the confirmation of a death sentence for one individual in Fars Province by the State Supreme Court because of the crime of “robbery and rape”.
3. State-controlled media have reported the execution of the lashes sentence for one individual because of acts incompatible with chastity.
4. The health situation of some political prisoners is still reported to be unfavourable to the extent that some of them - such as – Afarin Chitsaz – are sick but no serious action has been taken for their treatment.
5. Payman Kush Baghi and Behnam Musivand were transferred to Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj. It should be noted that this transfer has been carried out without any specific reason and contrary to the regulations and rules of the prisons internal affairs. In addition, properties and handwritten manuscripts of Behnam Ebrahimzadeh were seized by the relevant officials of the prison.
6. Rasul Razavi – a political prisoner – began his hunger strike in protest at what he called pressure from security forces within the framework of his legal case, and Ali Mavut, a prisoner citizen, started his hunger strike in protest at his conditions in the prison.
7. The Basij force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has reported the detention of 40 individuals in Neyshabur for attending parties. In addition, state-controlled media have also reported the detention of 37 individuals in Yazd and 16 individuals in Tehran because of the offence of attendance in parties.
8. The Judiciary officials have reported the detention of eight individuals, summons of 17 individuals to the magistrate court and the closure and sealing of nine studios and beauty salons in Mashhad; the detention of three individuals, interrogation of 17 others and the closure and sealing of five ateliers in Arak. The Revolution Guards Corps has reported the detention of 24 individuals, and the summons of 41 others to the magistrate court and the closure of nine ateliers, studios and female hairdresser stores in the Markazi Province and the detention of 11 individuals, summons of some individuals and the closing down of three ateliers in Sistan Va Baluchestan Province. All these detentions and closures were in connection with outlawed activities in modelling.
9. The commander of police has reported the daily detention of 2,000 individuals in Tehran and other provinces because of the offence of wearing immodest attire.
Section 2: Social and Economic Rights
Reports concerning the situation regarding social and economic also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas for example: news reports speak of the unsatisfactory employment rights and salaries of workers in many places, such as Haft Tapeh Agro-Industry Complex, Foru Aliaj Factory, Arvand Petrochemical contractor, Pardis Petrochemical, Raja contractor, contractor of Arak Mashinsazi, contractor of Persian Gulf Star Refinery, Pars Refractories Plant, Buyer Sanat Yasuj Steel Factory, Faryab Mines in Kerman, Tehran-North express way, the utilization department of Pakinehshoy Company and operators of high voltage power in Kerman, nurses and medical staff of Shahid Namzai Hospital in Shiraz and seven dismissed workers of Jam Petrochemical Company.
1. At the time of compiling the present report, the wages of 300 workers of Oil Industry Development and Energy Company have not been paid for three months; around 1400 workers of Tarzeh Coal Mine have not been paid for three months; approximately 1400 workers at “Hepco” have not received their salaries for three months; more than 100 workers of Asalem Wood Industry have not been paid for three months'; around 100 workers of Nasb Niru in Kahnuj have not received payment for six months; around 80 workers of Shushtar Municipality have not received their wages for three months and 60 workers of Farapetropars in Bandar Abbas have not been paid for three months. Moreover, the wage arrears of 300 workers in Petropars Refinery Complex are unpaid some seven months after the termination of their employment contracts.
2. Some 50 workers of “Arasbaran Steel” and 200 workers of Jam Tile Factory were dismissed because of the closure of these industrial units.
On the other hand, around 100 contract workers of “Tabas Coke Making” Project, around 35 workers of Alifard Factory in Kaveh Industrial Zone, around 45 workers of Mehrabad Airport cargo workers, at least 42 individuals of Yasuj Municipality, at least 20 experienced workers of Apadana Saram Factory in Qazvin, 18 technical workers of Raja, and 128 contract workers at “Aryan Steel” have been laid off and are without jobs now.
3. Iran Labour News Agency (ILNA) has reported the detention of two construction workers at the Tehran-North expressway project.
Section 3: Cultural Heritage and Environment
Reports concerning the situation regarding cultural heritage and environment also point to the continued presence of unfavourable conditions in these areas during this month to the extent that, according to the World Health Organization, every year more than 26,000 individuals die in Iran due to air pollution and in this respect, Iran ranks 26th in the world.
1. According to a government official, during some days of the month of Mehr, the density of dust particles reached 17 times more than the permitted level in Ahvaz, 18 times more in Abadan, and in Susangerd, Mahshahr and Shadegan, the levels reached between 11 and 12 times more than the permitted standards.
2. Armin Abdollahi and Jamal Fathi – two citizens – were injured in Sarvabad due to mine explosion. The explosion of two mines in Sardasht also injured four mine sweeping workers, Ali Alikarami, Mohammad Ebrahimi, Hojat Chubin and Hossein Zolfaqari. Finally, a citizen named Davud Qodosian was injured in Mahabad because of mine explosion.
At the end of the report for the month of Mehr of 1395, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights announces that based on human rights conventions it has signed and undertaken, the Iranian state is obliged to take steps towards reforming the laws and decriminalizing many behaviours that are essentially non-criminal in nature, and finally to take immediate action to ensure prisons enjoy the necessary space and other resources and facilities. The Centre has also emphasized that in line with its accountability obligations and commitments, the Judiciary should declare its position on the presence of "illegal centres for investigation and interrogation", and take steps, as promptly as possible, to resolve that issue.
[signed] Shirin Ebadi, Chair of Centre for Defenders of Human Rights, 7 Aban 1395