[The original title of this article was “The sentence for Norm-Breaking Tourists in Tabas was Carried Out Today”]
Tabas County General and Revolutionary Prosecutor provided details of a case of “consumption of alcohol” and “acts contrary to Islamic morals” by a number of tourists and stated: “Pursuant to Articles 264 and 265 of the Islamic Penal Code, [these violations] carry a Hadd punishment of 80 lashes, which was carried out in this case.”
According to a Tasnim News Agency report from the city of Tabas, in providing details of a case of consumption of alcohol and other acts contrary to Islamic morals committed by tourists, Hojjatoleslam val-Moslemeen (a title in the hierarchy for clerics) Amir Zare stated today at noon: “On Friday, January 31, 2020, a tour had travelled to the City of Tabas, where a number of individuals of that tour committed crimes and confessed thereto.”
Tabas County General and Revolutionary Prosecutor added: “In the current conditions where the country is under sanctions, travelling and the tourism industry constitute a great economic asset that must be exploited and supported in a correct and wjolesome fashion.”
He emphasized: “Because of its natural and pristine landscape, as well as the Imamzadeh Hossein Bin-Mussa Al-Kazem, peace be upon him, resting place, the city of Tabas is of great interest to tourists. Recently, the Tourism Minister made a trip to the city where he visited the exceptional space of Golshan Garden. One of the county officials’ main objectives is to attract people from all over the country to Tabas so that they can enjoy these God-given natural assets. While here, however, they must respect and abide by the laws and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including Hijab and Islamic morals and refrain from doing acts contrary to [religious] norms.
This judicial official stated: “Unfortunately, in addition to tourist attractions, there are also some harms that must be addressed, and the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Ministry has the biggest burden and must manage [affairs] in such a way to avoid and prevent problems and other norm-breaking acts that can cause concern and upset the faithful religious people.”
Zare Hosseini emphasized: “The Judiciary has the duty to bring a criminal case against individuals who commit crimes. Unfortunately, in these past few days we obtained information that a number of tourists had not abided by the laws in Tabas County, and had consumed alcohol in the Kal Jenni region, and Islamic morals were not respected, according to existing images.”
Tabas County prosecutor added: “More than one and a half liter of alcoholic beverages was recovered from the bus transporting the tourists in this case, and existing personal pictures and videos showed that they had consumed alcohol. Therefore, a sentence was issued observing due process, and the sentence was carried out, since the defendant had no objection to it.”
He stated: “Pursuant to Articles 264 and 265 of the Islamic Penal Code, [the crime] carried 80 lashes, which was implemented in this case.”
Tabas County General and Revolutionary Prosecutor emphasized: “While we support the tourism industry, if, however, a violator intends to break the norms, as was the case in today’s proceedings – which was adjudicated expeditiously, and less than 5 hours had elapsed from the time of issuance of the order to prosecute to the issuance of an indictment – we will act and deal with [similar cases] expeditiously and forcefully. We will host individuals who want to enjoy Iran’s natural paradise in Tabas County through wholesome tourism, but we will also deal decisively with violators.
These individuals had travelled from [the city of] Mashhad to Tabas County with an official company and with a Tour Permit issued by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Ministry. The cases related to certain [women] defendants not respecting Hijab [and taking off their head covers] was forwarded to the competent courts.
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. 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."