<<previous  |  index  |  next>>

VII. Encounters with the Judiciary

“When politics comes into the door of the courthouse, justice goes out the window.”

- Statement attributed to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

I don’t have any need for the law. I am the law.

- Tehran Public Prosecutor Said Mortazavi during a session with a political prisoner’s family. 100

Iran’s judiciary is at the core of the systematic crackdown on those who express views critical of the government. A handful of judges appointed by and accountable to the Leader define and enforce the law.  The judicial system in practice violates basic due process rights at every level. These include the rights to be promptly charged with a criminal offense;101 have access to legal counsel; have adequate time and facilities for preparation of a defense; to be tried before a competent, independent and impartial court in a public hearing; to be able to examine the evidence and produce evidence on one’s behalf; and, to have a conviction reviewed by a higher court.102  The violations are flagrant and systematic, and they undermine any capacity to seek remedy or justice.103

The cases of individuals detained for their political opinions are in the hands of judges who serve as prosecutor, investigator, and final decision maker. Many former political prisoners told Human Rights Watch that during their time in Evin Prison, guards, prison officials, and other prisoners referred to them as “Mortazavi’s prisoners.”  As one told Human Rights Watch, “No matter where you were, if you were political, you were under the direct control of Mortazavi.”104

Few individuals bear more responsibility for turning the judiciary into a tool of the ongoing political crackdown than Said Mortazavi. Mortazavi first served as a judge in Tehran's public court branch 1410, where he handled a number of key cases related to press freedom. Authorities reportedly began funneling sensitive cases to his court, secure in the knowledge that they would end in a conviction, regardless of the quality of the evidence against the accused. According to several sources interviewed by human rights watch, Mortazavi would openly confer by phone with government officials while on the bench over how to handle individual cases.

In 2003, Mortazavi was promoted to the powerful position of public prosecutor for Tehran, which meant that he was in charge of prosecuting virtually all of the cases of prominent journalists, political activists, and student protestors. Reportedly assigned to the prosecutor's office as a reward for his reliable tenure as a judge, Mortazavi has been personally involved in a number of coercive interrogations, threats against individual arrestees, and has even allegedly given the order for individual arrestees to be physically abused.

But the flaws of the Iranian judicial system extend well beyond Mortazavi himself. Responsibility for the systematic violations of due process extended to the highest levels of the judiciary. Judges in political cases often “visit” the accused in interrogation rooms and secret detention centers.  Many prisoners told Human Rights Watch they had seen Judge Alizadeh and Judge Mortazavi in Evin Prison’s Section 209, confirming the absence of any separation between interrogator, prosecutor, and judge. For prisoners held for peaceful dissent, there was no space within the legal system to seek remedy for the treatment in detention. 

Denial of right to counsel and right to prepare a defense

Those held for expressing their political views were regularly denied the right to counsel. Many are told that any decision to retain counsel will reflect unfavorably on their cases.  For those who did obtain counsel, many were never allowed to meet privately with their attorneys, and their attorneys were not given access to their files. During the early stages of the crackdown, several well-known attorneys who acted as defense counsel in cases relating to journalists or editors were arrested and detained themselves.  Many attorneys are now afraid to take on the cases of those held for political reasons.105

In this environment, even for those who do obtain counsel, lawyers are rarely able to defend their clients effectively or to investigate the charges against them.  Defense lawyers could not carry out the most basic tasks required to act on their client’s behalf.  Attorneys brave enough to take freedom of expression related cases are constantly at risk of being arrested and detained, often on the charge of “disseminating lies.”106  Those political detainees who did have lawyers did not have markedly different experiences than those who did not.

Non-Public Trials

All trials in Iran are required to be public.107  Political and press-related cases must have a jury as well as a panel of judges.108 Most of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch involved informal sessions in chambers between judge and prisoner in which the judge urged the prisoner to “cooperate” or “confess.” The prisoners were often brought into a courtroom in which they were faced with judge and complainant. (In all press-related cases covered in this report, the complainant was a government official or a member of the militia.)  These “trials” not only violate basic due process rights but also raised the risk of the use of coerced confessions in closed sessions.109

The Iranian judiciary’s shunning of open trials stems from a desire to avoid giving arrestees a chance to air their grievances publicly.  At his open trial in late 2000, journalist Akbar Ganji aggressively challenged the basis for his detention and denounced his treatment in detention in the presence of international media.110 According to former detainees, Iranian judges have since feared that if they comply with the law and hold public trials, they will create forums for defendants to speak out; if they are closed, they will invite criticism from the international community. There has been an attempt to demonstrate that trials are not secret, while warning defendants that if they do not cooperate, they will spend more time behind bars.  Several former prisoners said that their judges told them before their trial that if they were to speak out as Ganji did, their trial would immediately be converted to a closed session, and they would spend a longer time in solitary confinement.  

Judges who hear cases where defendants have been abducted by plainclothes agents and kept incommunicado in illegal detention centers reinforce the perception among prisoners that these “parallel institutions” are supported by the government. The judiciary, is not merely ignoring violations of the law being committed in order to deliver those who criticize the government to the courtroom, it is directly sanctioning these violations. 

Denial of the Right to Appeal

Under Iranian law, those convicted of a crime have the right to appeal to a higher court within ten days of notice of their conviction. In practice, however, many political prisoners never have the chance to appeal their convictions. They are told that if they appeal, they will be sent back to prison or additional charges will be brought against them.  The politicization of the judiciary in Iran has led to a systematic denial of the last remaining mechanism for accountability for those imprisoned for their political expression or opinions. 


Massoud Behnoud

Massoud Behnoud recalls being taken into a family visit on the twenty-eighth day of his imprisonment, to find a man he did not know seated next to his wife. His conversation with the man took a somewhat comic turn:

The guard told me, this man Hosseinabadi is your lawyer.  The guard said to “my lawyer”: “You have no right to talk about the case.” Hosseinabadi said, “But I don’t have anything else to discuss with him.”  The guard said, “Judge Mortazavi said you are not to discuss the case.” My lawyer said, “Well, then, I shall leave.”111 

He was never able to meet privately with his lawyer again. He recalls being told by Judge Mortazavi that “if he [the lawyer] is not here it is better.” On the several occasions that Behnoud did see his attorney, he asked if the latter had been able to view his file.  The only time that Behnoud had seen the file of charges against him was when he had been taken into Judge Mortazavi’s court, approximately one week into his detention, to be informed of the charges against him.

When I went to the court, Mortazavi said, “There are sixty-two charges against you, from the Basij and the Ansar-e Hizbollah.  They had taken a number of my articles and highlighted them and put them in a notebook. They had written in the margins…I never heard about charges relating to those sixty-two initial complaints, or that file, again.

After four months in prison, I went to court and I could tell that things were different. The man who had brought me to the courtroom left as soon as he had dropped me off.  Mortazavi told me to come into the other room to see [Judge] Alizadeh.  They took me to the basement of the building, and put me in a Nissan Patrol [a type of sport utility vehicle].  They put a blindfold on me, there was a handcuff attached to the seat that they put one of my hands into. They pushed my head down. I didn’t see them, I didn’t recognize any of their voices.  For about one and a half hours, we just circled the city. They took me somewhere, they told me that the stairs went down, they sat me in a chair and disappeared.112

At this point, as Behnoud later learned, he had arrived at Prison 59.  On his eighth day of detention there, in ill health, and having been denied even the most basic medical care for his condition, he was taken to see Mortazavi:

Mortazavi told me, “I want to send you back to your friends in Ward 325 [journalists and editors being held at Evin who were not in solitary were in Ward 325].  By now, I was in the fifth month of my detention, and I was beginning to realize that nothing that he said was true.113 

Behnoud was eventually taken back to Ward 325.114  In his next interrogation, he was informed that it was time to write down his legal defense.  He repeatedly said that he was not a legal expert, and that he wished to consult his attorney.  He was told this was not an option.  He and other political prisoners also asked for their indictment papers, and were refused.115 Behnoud was not informed of the charges that would be brought against him at his trial.  He raised this in his next session with Judge Mortazavi.

Mortazavi said, “Write your defense, then I have to read it. If you do not write it, you will stay in.”  In the interrogation room, they would put a piece of paper before me and tell me to write my defense.  I would write, and they would tear it up and tell me that it is not right, that I needed to write it again.  Another day in chambers, Mortazavi said, “You are not cooperating.  I want to free you, but you are not cooperating. Just say the right words, say the right things, and I will be able to free you.”116

He was informed one day in mid-December, 2000 that it was time for his trial, and taken into Judge Mortazavi’s chambers:

Mortazavi said, “You have been good. Help us. Just help me to set you free.” There were a lot of journalists at my trial, including many internationals. He was very very worried about how public the trial was becoming, and he was worried about me acting out like Ganji.  The courtroom became very crowded.  He took me into his office: myself, Mortazavi, my lawyer, and Tashakkori [the representative of the Public Prosecutor at the time].  Tashakkori said, “This will be a formal trial. And it will be in camera [closed to the public].”  They had told me that if I accepted a non-public trial, they would set me free. He told me, “If the trial is about an `indecent’ issue, then the court can decide to make it non-public.”

My lawyer said, “You can’t do this.” I had no idea what the judge was talking about.  At this point, Mortazavi took out a picture of my wife wearing a bathing suit that they had taken from my home. He said, “Say you took it or we will arrest her.  Do you want that?” Tashakkori said, “There is a part of the law which is related to the distribution of pornographic film.” He then read the law.  And my lawyer and I said, “What does this have to do with anything?”  He said, “So, when you had the film for this picture, who did you give it to?”  He kept saying, “If you are quiet in court, we won’t sign the indictment for this crime.”117

At Behnoud’s public trial, Prosecutor Tashakkori read the letter of indictment, which included charges of possession of heroin, possession of materials for the distribution and use of heroin, and importing illegal narcotics.118  Behnoud had never heard of these allegations.  The trial had no jury, as required by law. Tashakkori warned Behnoud’s lawyer: “If you complain that there was no jury, which you can, then go ahead, but your client will be in jail for at least another three months.”119 Behnoud’s sentence, nineteen months, was announced a week later and he was freed on 30 million tomans bail.120 When Behnoud was called upon to defend himself, he said:

The representative of the public prosecutor reads a few articles and then he sticks some opium in them and then reads some speeches and adds heroin to them.  Then he reads a report written by me and wraps it around alcoholic drinks.  You know very well that I am on trial only for my writings here.121

Behnoud and his lawyer had decided that they would appeal the decision, as the verdict suggested that he would have to serve an additional fourteen months in prison.  Judge Mortazavi had more advice for him regarding his appeal:

He told me, “Don’t ask for an appeal.  If you don’t then I can cut one-fourth from your sentence. The appeals court is in my hands, don’t do it.”  I filed for an appeal anyways but Mortazavi would not send it up to the appeals court.

Behnoud found out about the next development in his case the way many of those targeted by the judiciary are informed: from the state-controlled media. Without ever having been informed that his case had been passed to the appeals court, he found out from media coverage that the appeals court had confirmed the nineteen month sentence.  Behnoud received a midnight call from Judge Mortazavi on his mobile phone:

He said, “I told you not to do that.”  I went to go see him to find out what the next step would be, and he said, “I have put the decision in a drawer for now.  Why are you rushing to find out more about it? If you don’t write anymore, I won’t send this to the Office for the Enforcement of Judgments.”

Behnoud did not remain silent for long. A month later, he published an article in the now-banned newspaper, Bonyad.  Judge Mortazavi called the editor of the newspaper and told him, “If you don’t stop publishing his work, we will get him and we will close you down. Agha[a reference to Leader Khamenei] doesn’t like him to write.” 

Behnoud was abroad for a speaking engagement when an arrest warrant authorizing his detention at the airport was announced. He did not return to Iran.  He told Human Rights Watch:

They got what they wanted. It was difficult for them to keep me in jail: there were always people asking about my case, asking about my condition.  Now, I am out of the country.  I announced in my final court hearing that I would stop writing, which is what they really wanted.122

Mohsen M.

Dr. Mohsen M., the student leader from Hamedan Medical School, was never formally charged with a crime during the year he was in and out of illegal detention centers from August 2000 to August 2001.123  On September 2, 2000, he was called to appear before Branch Four of the Revolutionary Court in Hamedan.  Throughout the year, whenever he had been taken to the Revolutionary Court and questioned by the judge, he had asked for a lawyer and had been repeatedly told that he could not have one, despite his right to an attorney under Iranian law. 124  Prior to his September hearing before the Revolutionary Court, he consulted a lawyer as well as a prominent reformist member of parliament.  The lawyer told him that he could only represent him if the judge allowed it.  The judge said that it was up to the Ministry of Intelligence.  Mohsen M. was not certain which of his meetings in the judges’ offices were considered trials and which were not:

My next trial was not public. The people in the room were a Ministry of Intelligence official, the judge, and myself. The judge said, “We will tell you what you did, and what your sentence is.” My sentence was five years imprisonment taziri,125 fifty lashes, and 500 tomans fine.126  I said that I wanted to appeal, and the judge told me that I had ten days to file my appeal.  I told the judge that I needed a lawyer in order to be able to understand how to file an appeal. He said, “You will not have a lawyer.”127

His appeal was never passed to the higher court. M. was interviewed in the international media after receiving his sentence, and he believes that due to the pressure brought by heightened attention on his case, the five year sentence was suspended and the flogging converted to a fine in addition to the initial fine.128  When he continued to pursue the appeal, arguing that he should not have any crimes on his record, the authorities did not react well:

They told me, “You will have your [50] lashings now.” I asked for a minute to prepare myself, and they refused.  They said that my crime was insulting the Leader.  They took off my coat, stood me up against a wall, and whipped me until I was purple. After the lashings, I was taken to the emergency room. When I put my coat on, I tell you, I do not know how I walked out.  As I left, the man said, “You are a counter-revolutionary, and you will pay for everything.”129

Mohsen M. went to see a local cleric and judge to ask for advice and to request that the judge intervene on his behalf.

I told him that as a gift for my graduation from medical school, I had received fifty lashes.  He asked me if I had been a member of the student group in school, and I said, “Yes, Khomeini said that all students should be a part of the anjoman-e islami.”  He said I should no longer be involved in the student groups, he said that the martyrs130 had shed blood for our system, and that I should not insult them by engaging in political activities. I told him: “Then, the martyrs are angry in heaven. They are angry that you crush us, beat us, destroy us in their names. They were young people too, they were students too.”131  

Mohsen M. fled Iran, but says, “Even today, I am ready to go to court and be charged with whatever crime it is that they say I have committed. I only ask two things: that I have a lawyer; and that my trial be public.”132

Ebrahim Nabavi

Satirist and writer Ebrahim Nabavi was first taken to prison in 1998 for twenty-nine days. At that time, he was not charged with a crime nor taken to court. His next arrest came in August 2000.133

Judge Mortazavi called me and said, “I need to talk to you.” I went to see him, and he said, “Here are all the charges against you.”  I saw that there were no plaintiffs listed.  The charges included “insulting the Leader.”  There were over fifty charges listed, and I was called to go to the Revolutionary Court, Branch One.

There it was just a police officer acting as the complainant, myself, the judge, and his secretary.  At this point, the entire dossier was handed over to Branch 1410 of the Public Court under Judge Mortazavi.134 

After his arrest, Nabavi was held in solitary confinement in Sections 240 and 209 of Evin Prison for over three months, and interrogated and held for three days in Prison 59. He recalls being placed before a videocamera and told to what to say about how his views had changed while in prison.  Both Judge Ahmadi and Judge Mortazavi came to Section 209 of Evin during his interrogations.135 Many journalists and intellectuals recall Nabavi’s only public court hearing as a sign of what solitary confinement could do to their ranks: he seemed to confess to all charges.136 His statements in court on November 15, 2000, testify both to the effectiveness of prolonged solitary confinement in silencing critics, and to Nabavi’s skill as a satirist:

I accept the accusation of distribution of lies, but I am ashamed to feel that my pen has ever reproached anybody.  I have written my writings while perfect sanity and self-will and all of them have been written under specific conditions and in specific places.  Naturally, as I consider my power of reasoning much higher than that of the editors and the directors that I had, fortunately I have not listened to them and have not been influenced by them.

Regarding the accusation of “distribution of lies,” I confess that this has been my mistake and I don’t have anything to say in this respect.  Distributing lies, and at the same time defending oneself, this is evidence of “shamelessness.”137  

Then-head Judge Tashakorri read out the list of crimes, and Judge Mortazavi presided over the trial. Nabavi recalls that as he confessed to ‘wrongdoing,’ those who knew him in the audience laughed out loud.  Nabavi was told at the end of his trial that his eight month sentence would not include much of the time he had already served. Because a portion of his sentence remained, he could be rearrested and jailed at any time. He recalled Judge Mortazavi telling him, “Don’t write anymore, and you won’t come back to jail.”138 Before leaving Evin, he was also warned not to tell his story: “They said ISNA [Iranian Student News Agency], IRNA [Islamic republic News Agency], and BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] will be in touch with you.  Be careful what you say.”139 

Nabavi cannot return to Iran.  He continues to write about Iranian issues and publishes his work on his website.140 

Ali K.

Ali K.,141 a student detained on the July 9, 2003 anniversary of the 1999 student protests, was repeatedly called to meet with the prosecutor and judge in Evin.  He was informed that the charges against him included “activities against national security” and “public disturbance.”  He recalls that those individuals who had been picked up with him in the summer of 2003 were often confused about their legal status:

Many people would be called in to go before the judge three or four times a week. They would always come away thinking different things: sometimes they would be told that they were about to be released if they cooperated, and other times they would be told that they would be in jail for a very very long time.  This is part of what made it so difficult. You had no idea what was going on, and there was no one to explain it.142

He remembers meeting with the prosecutor in his case while he was in prison:

He was the most terrifying man I have ever met. He would ask me the same questions over and over, and when I was in his office I saw that there were cases after cases piled upon his desk.  When he told me that I would be there for a very long time, I thought they were probably right because there were so many cases on his desk.  At one point, he said to me, “You have been accused of a serious crime, now it is your responsibility to prove that it is not true.”143

He believes that he was eventually released because he comes from a relatively wealthy family, and his father was able to pay a bail of five million toman.144   He was brought to trial in late 2003, where he was convicted of “activities against national security,” with a suspended sentence.  He does not plan to engage in political activism again.145 

Rewarding Injustice

Those judges named in this section, including representatives of the public prosecutor, were promoted during the period covered in this report.  Said Mortazavi is now the Tehran Chief Prosecutor. Abbasali Alizadeh is now the head of the Tehran judiciary, and Ali-Asghar Tashakkori is the deputy head of the justice department. As of this writing, no judge is known to have been independently investigated or disciplined for violations of Iranian law relating to the rights of the accused, freedom from ill-treatment, and freedom from torture.146

[100]Man be qanun kari nadaram. Man qanun hastam.” Human Rights Watch interview  with family of former political prisoner who attended his trial before Judge Mortazavi, December 13, 2003. 

[101] The U.N. Human Rights Committee also states that “Pre-trial detention should be an exception and as short as possible.” Human Rights Committee, General Comment 8, Article 9, Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI\GEN\1\Rev.1 at 8 (1994).

[102] See ICCPR, articles 9 & 14.

[103] The final report of the U.N. Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights to Iran, bears quoting:

It seems very clear to the Special Representative that the principle obstacle to reform, to the introduction and nourishment of a culture of human rights, is the judiciary, its patrons and its supporters.  By any estimate, this is a very small group in a country of 65 million people.  It is a group that bears heavy responsibility for the ongoing violations of human rights in Iran.

 Maurice Danby Copithorne, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, E/CN.4/2002/42, p. 5, para. 9. 

[104]  Human Rights Watch interview with former political prisoner, Paris, December 2003.

[105] The case of Nasser Zarafshan is illustrative. Zarafshan, a prominent attorney for many imprisoned journalists and writers, was also involved in the case of the ”Serial Murders.” He was arrested in late 2000, and held in Evin until his sentencing in March 2002 after a closed trial to three years in prison for “weapons and alcohol possession” and two years for “disseminating secret information.” See FIDH, “Iran,” Annual Report 2002.  He was tried by the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces, which does not have jurisdiction over civilians, but seems to be increasingly involved in targeting political prisoners in cooperation with other security agencies.  See Human Rights Watch, “Iran: Attempt to Silence Lawyer in Assassinations Case,”March 22, 2002.

[106] Special Rapporteur Ligabo notes, “often, the legal provision used to prosecute lawyers is the ‘dissemination of falsehoods.’ Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, E/CN.4/2004/62/Add.2, para. 63.  The reason that this charge is easily used against lawyers is that they often record information, testimony, or expert opinion in documentary form (paper, notes, video or audio tapes, etc.) providing the means through which information could ostensibly be “disseminated.” 

[107] Article 165 of the Constitution of Iran states: “Trials are to be held openly and members of the public may attend without any restriction; unless the court determines that an open trial would be detrimental to public morality or discipline, or if in case of private disputes, both the parties request not to hold open hearing.”

[108] Article 168 of the Constitution of Iran states: “Political and press offenses will be tried openly and in the presence of a jury, in courts of justice.  The manner of the selection of the jury, its powers, and the definition of political offences, will be determined by law in accordance with the Islamic criteria.”

[109] One recent news report on a decision in the case of Emaddedin Baqi, a journalist imprisoned several times for his writing, typifies state-controlled press coverage of press-related cases: “Judge Babaei has stressed in the court ruling, a copy of which was faxed to IRNA, that Baqi had been found guilty of propagating against the Islamic establishment and working to the benefit of the opposition groups after the court considered a report by the Information Ministry, Baqi's lectures, notes and interviews, as well as his confessions. “  IRNA, December 5, 2003.

[110] “Iranian reformist trials to reopen,” BBC, November 29, 2000 (Noting that at his first trial, “Akbar Ganji stormed into court, loudly claiming he had been beaten in jail”). 

[111] Human Rights Watch interview with Massoud Behnoud, London, December 20, 2003. 

[112] Human Rights Watch interview with Massoud Behnoud, London, December 20, 2003.

[113] Human Rights Watch interview with Massoud Behnoud, London, December 20, 2003.

[114] By early 2001, there were reports in the press and among former prisoners that Block 325 had been cleared out, and that many ordinary-law prisoners had been removed. At one point, several of the most well-known reformist journalists and editors were held there at the same time. It was thought that the space had been cleared out in order to house the many political prisoners who would be entering Evin that year. More recent reports suggest that much of Block 325 is being converted to solitary cells. See Editorial, “The number of political figures that are summoned by the court or imprisoned is increasing,” Payam-eh Emrooz (Tehran), March 16, 2001,, (retrieved February 2, 2004). 

[115] Human Rights Watch interview with Massoud Behnoud, London, December 20, 2003. 

[116] It would later become clear to many who had been in this early wave of prisoners that the written defenses could be easily used as confessions: to be paraded publicly as an example of the retraction of the author’s political views after having had the opportunity to reflect in prison. Several texts written by Ebrahim Nabavi in prison were published in the state-run press as examples of confessions.

[117] Human Rights Watch interview with Massoud Behnoud, London, December 20, 2003.

[118] The charges also included:  causing commotion in people’s minds, dissemination of lies, cooperation with foreign radios, crossing the red lines.  Editorial, “I am tried for my writings,” Doran-eh Emrooz (Tehran), December 15, 2000, (retrieved February 2, 2004). 

[119] Human Rights Watch interview with Massoud Behnoud, London, December 20, 2003.

[120] This is an enormously high bail amount, almost U.S. $35,000. 

[121] Editorial, “I am tried for my writings,” Doran-eh Emrooz (Tehran), December 15, 2000,  (retrieved February 2, 2004). 

[122] Human Rights Watch interview with Massoud Behnoud, London, December 20, 2003. 

[123] On several separate occasions after being released, he was picked up by plainclothes men, taken to the local Ministry of Intelligence office, beaten, interrogated, and later dropped off.

[124] He recalled one exchange with the judge:

 “It is much better for you if you just tell us the truth. We know that you are talking to people in America.”  I said: “The students want their rights as provided in the Constitution.  The real one. Not the one that is framed on the wall but no one follows anymore. Why don’t you take me to public court, why don’t you put me on trial?”

Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Dr. Mohsen M., Ankara, Turkey, December 8, 2003.

[125] Tazir is an Islamic legal term generally meaning discretionary punishment. In this context, it refers to a suspended sentence that could be activated at the discretion of the judge.

[126] The judgment in Dr. Mohsen M.’s case is on file with Human Rights Watch. 

[127] Human Rights Watch telephone interview  with Dr. Mohsen M., Ankara, Turkey December 8, 2003.

[128] The punishment of flogging, generally carried out with a leather whip, is common in Iran for ‘morality crimes’ as well as some other crimes, has been criticized by various international bodies. In the capacity that it is used in Iran, especially as punishment for ‘morality crimes’ and against political prisoners, it falls within the definition of torture under international law. The Human Rights Committee notes in its General Comment to Article 7 of the ICCPR, “The prohibition in article 7 relates not only to acts that cause physical pain but also to acts that cause mental suffering to the victim.  In the Committee’s view, moreover, the prohibition must extend to corporal punishment., including excessive chastisement ordered as punishment for a crime or as an educative or disciplinary measure.” Human Rights Committee, General Comment 20, Article 7 (1992), HRI\GEN\1\Rev.1 at 30 (1994), para. 5. 

[129] Human Rights Watch telephone interview  with Dr. Mohsen M., Ankara, Turkey December 8, 2003.

[130] “Martyrs” generally refers to those who died in combat during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Many of those who were killed were young men. 

[131] Human Rights Watch telephone interview  with Dr. Mohsen M., Ankara, Turkey, December 8, 2003. 

[132] Human Rights Watch telephone interview  with Dr. Mohsen M., Ankara, Turkey, December 8, 2003.

[133] “Hamshahri Journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi detained” Islamic Republic News Agency, August 7, 2000; Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran Country Report, 2000, (retrieved February 6, 2004). 

[134] Human Rights Watch telephone interview  with Ebrahim Nabavi, January 8, 2004. 

[135] Human Rights Watch telephone interview  with Ebrahim Nabavi, January 8, 2004. 

[136] See Committee to Protect Journalists, “Iran Country Report,” 2000, which notes, “In a surprising development, Nabavi apologized for his published work during a court session in mid-November.”

[137] “Don’t Take My Assertions Seriously,” Heyat-e Nau (Tehran), November 16, 2000. Translated by Roya Monajem for, (retrieved October 17, 2003). 

[138] Human Rights Watch telephone interview  with Ebrahim Nabavi, January 8, 2004. 

[139] Human Rights Watch telephone interview  with Ebrahim Nabavi, January 8, 2004. 

[140] See

[141] Not his real name.

[142] Human Rights Watch interview  with Ali K., September 29, 2003, New York City.

[143] Human Rights Watch interview  with Ali K., September 29, 2003, New York City. 

[144] Approximately U.S. $60,000.

[145] Human Rights Watch interview with Ali K., January 21, 2004, New York City.

[146]  In his 2001 report, the then Special Representative on Iran recommended that “Judge Mortazavi be immediately suspended from the bench, pending a decision on his case by the Disciplinary Court for Judges.” Copithorne, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, p. 11, para 40. See also, FIDH, “Assessment of the EU/Iran Human Rights Dialogue,” November 2003,  p. 7. 

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>June 2004