Saturday, July 23, 2005

Iran Report Says Rights Violations Common in Prison

An unprecedented report from Iran's conservative judiciary acknowledged that human rights violations were widespread in prisons, the ISNA students news agency said on Saturday.

According to ISNA, the report said prisoners faced solitary confinement, torture, unwarranted arrest and possibly sexual harassment when detained by Iran's judiciary, military and police.

Iran's former reformist-dominated parliament last year wrote into law an order from Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi that banned torture and solitary confinement.

"Any kind of torture used to extract confessions ... is banned and confessions made under such circumstances are not legal," the legislation said.

But the judicial report, parts of which were shared with ISNA, said the legislation had been ignored in several cases.

"The report accepts that torture and solitary confinement exist in detention centers and asks for measures to address this," wrote ISNA.

The report said a detention center run by the conservative Revolutionary Guard had refused to admit inspectors. READ MORE

The judiciary says it has the right to oversee all detention centers, but some security and military groups bar them.

Iran's constitution specifically outlaws the use of torture, but human rights groups say the Islamic Republic's security forces routinely use it to extract confessions.

Several journalists and political dissidents have said they were forced to make false confessions and were mistreated in detention.

ISNA said Abbasali Alizadeh, the head of Tehran's judicial department, who also heads a committee overseeing anti-torture legislation had shared the report with the agency.

Judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad was not immediately able to confirm details of the report to Reuters but said that he would check facts with Alizadeh.