The public flogging on Tuesday in Iran of a young man convicted of consuming alcohol when he was just 14 or 15 years old over a decade ago highlights the inhumanity of a justice system that legalizes brutality, said Amnesty International today.
“The circumstances of this case are absolutely shocking, representing another horrific example of the Iranian authorities’ warped priorities. No one, regardless of age, should be subjected to flogging; that a child was prosecuted for consuming alcohol and sentenced to 80 lashes beggars belief,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“The Iranian authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including on children, demonstrates a shocking disregard for basic humanity. They should immediately abolish all forms of such punishment, which in Iran includes amputation and blinding as well as flogging.”
The public flogging took place on 10 July in Niazmand Square, Kashmar, Razavi Khorasan province, where the man, known just as M. R., was flogged 80 times on his back. Domestic media outlets have posted a picture from showing the young man tied to a tree as he was flogged by a masked man, with a crowd of people watching at a distance.
According to the Public Prosecutor of Kashmar, M. R. consumed alcohol during a wedding where an argument caused a fight that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old. The public prosecutor has conceded that M.R. was not involved in the murder and that the flogging sentence was only for drinking alcohol.
According to the prosecutor, the “offence” took place in the Iranian year of 1385 (March 2006 to March 2007). M. R. was born in the Iranian year of 1370 (March 1991 to March 1992), which means he would have been 14 or 15 years old at the time of the incident. The flogging sentence was issued 10 years ago in 1386 (March 2007 to March 2008). It is not clear to Amnesty International why the sentence was carried out after over a decade.
Judicial authorities in Iran have imposed and carried out various forms of cruel punishments in 2018, including the amputation of a man’s hand for stealing.
“The use of cruel and inhuman punishments such as flogging, amputation and blinding are an appalling assault on human dignity and violate the absolute prohibition on torture and other degrading treatment or punishment under international law,” said Philip Luther.
“As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to forbid torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. It’s simply unacceptable that the Iranian authorities continue to allow such punishments and to justify them in the name of protecting religious morals.”
Article 265 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code states that the punishment for consumption of alcohol by a Muslim is 80 lashes.
More than 100 “offences” are punishable by flogging under Iranian law. The offences include theft, assault, vandalism, defamation and fraud. They also cover acts that should not be criminalized, such as adultery, intimate relationships between unmarried men and women, “breach of public morals” and consensual same-sex sexual relations.
In January 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN body that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by state parties, urged Iran to “immediately repeal all provisions which authorize or condone cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of children”.