LONDON: Amnesty International has denounced the “gruesome” treatment of people in Iran’s justice system after an inmate was sentenced to 60 lashes after a peaceful hunger strike, and had a sentence of amputation upheld despite confessing to a crime under torture.
Hadi Rostami, who was convicted of robbery in 2019 after his confession, has attempted suicide twice while in Urumieh prison, according to Amnesty, leading to his sentence being extended by eight months and causing him to receive the lashes.
Despite this, he has not received any access to mental health treatment, and has been held in “inhumane” conditions, the human rights group said, adding that Rostami’s physical health has deteriorated due to the lack of medical attention following his suicide attempts.
“The cruel lashing of an ailing, suicidal prisoner is another reminder of the inhumanity of Iran’s criminal justice system, which legalizes torture and other ill-treatment,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The Iranian authorities are committing torture by leaving Hadi Rostami in constant fear of amputation and deliberately denying him urgently needed medical care for complications resulting from his recent suicide attempts,” she added.
“We call on the Iranian authorities to quash Hadi Rostami’s conviction and amputation sentence immediately and grant him a fair retrial without resorting to corporal punishments. They must also immediately provide him with the specialized physical and mental health care that he requires outside prison.”
Iran is renowned for its use of unusual and cruel punishments against prisoners, and has been the subject of repeated condemnation by members of the international community and human rights campaigners as a result.
In September 2020, Amnesty said the authorities planned to install a guillotine at Urumieh prison to carry out amputations.
It added that as well as Rostami, five other men are awaiting similar fates: Mehdi Sharfian, Mehdi Shahivand, Kasra Karami, Shahab Teimouri Ayeneh and Mehrdad Teimouri Ayeneh.
Iran’s criminal justice system is notorious for the number of allegations of cruelty leveled against it.
As well as torture, Iran is accused of using prisoners to exert political pressure on other governments, including the arbitrary detention of foreign and dual nationals such as British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who were both held in solitary confinement in conditions likened to torture by their families.
Iran is also known for executing prisoners in circumstances described as cruel, including political prisoners such as wrestling champion Navid Afkari, who was killed in secret without prior notice to him or his family on Sept. 12, 2020, and the execution of minors such as teenager Shayan Saeedpour in April that year.