Iran: Suicidal inmate subjected to 60 lashes and at risk of amputation

The Iranian authorities’ flogging of Hadi Rostami, an inmate at Urumieh prison in West Azerbaijan province, 60 times on 14 February 2021 is a gruesome reminder of the cruelty of Iran’s seriously flawed justice system, said Amnesty International, calling on the authorities to immediately quash his conviction and amputation sentence and provide him with the urgent medical care he needs.  

A criminal court in West Azerbaijan province convicted Hadi Rostami of robbery in November 2019 following a grossly unfair trial marred by torture-tainted “confessions” and sentenced him to having four of his fingers amputated. In late 2020, while in prison, he was sentenced to 60 lashes and eight month’s imprisonment for “disrupting prison order”. This was in relation to his peaceful protest- including in the form of hunger strikes - against his inhumane prison conditions and repeated threats over the past two months that his amputation sentence would be implemented imminently. He is currently suffering serious health complications resulting from two recent 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. 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,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“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.”

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.
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International

In recent months, prison, intelligence and prosecution officials in Urumieh prison have summoned Hadi Rostami on numerous occasions, blaming him for the media attention on the cases of men in the prison who are at risk of amputation, and threatening that his amputation sentence would be carried out imminently.

All of this has taken a severe toll on his mental health leading him to attempt suicide twice – most recently by swallowing pieces of broken glass on 18 January 2021.

According to information obtained by Amnesty International from an informed source, he remains in severe pain and continues to suffer internal bleeding and vomit blood because there are still pieces of broken glass in his digestive system. The prison and prosecution authorities are refusing to authorize his transfer to a medical facility outside of prison to receive the specialized medical treatment he needs. Despite contemplating self-mutilation and having suicidal thoughts, he is also not receiving any mental health care.

Medical services offered in Iran’s prison clinics are limited to basic forms of care such as measuring blood pressure, administering injections, providing intravenous fluids and prescribing medication. Prisoners who require further treatment have to be transferred to medical facilities outside of prison to receive it.

“We call on the Iranian authorities to immediately stop such shocking acts of cruelty and mutilation and treat all prisoners with human dignity. The international community must urgently pressure the authorities to respect human rights, and to refrain from carrying out the amputation sentences of Hadi Rostami and others in Urumieh prison. The world must condemn, in the strongest terms, the ongoing use of corporal punishments by the Iranian authorities,” said Diana Eltahawy.

Background

In September 2020, Amnesty International warned that Iran’s Supreme Court had upheld amputation sentences against four men, including Hadi Rostami, who had been convicted of robbery following unfair trials. In December 2020, the organization published information indicating that prosecution and prison authorities were preparing to bring a guillotine to Urumieh prison to carry out the amputation sentences of up to six men, but it appears that this has not occurred thus far. The six men at risk are Hadi Rostami, Mehdi Sharfian, Mehdi Shahivand, Kasra Karami, Shahab Teimouri Ayeneh, and Mehrdad Teimouri Ayeneh.

Cruel and inhumane punishments such as flogging and amputation constitute torture, which is a crime under international law and prohibited under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party.

According to information gathered by Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, from 2000 to 2020, the Iranian authorities amputated the fingers and/or toes of at least 129 individuals. This means that, on average, the authorities have amputated the fingers and/or toes of at least one person every two months.