The Iranian government has secretly executed hundreds of prisoners at the notorious Vakilabad prison in Mashhad, according to an interim report to the UN by Special Rapporteur on Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed.
Dr Shaheed was the former Maldivian Foreign Minister under both the current and former Presidents. As the Iranian government refused to allow him to visit the country in his capacity as UN Special Rapporteur, the report relies heavily on first-hand testimonies, “the preponderance of which presents a pattern of systemic violations of fundamental human rights.”
“The most urgent issues that have been brought to the attention of the Special Rapporteur include multifarious deficits in relation to the administration of justice, certain practices that amount to torture, cruel, or degrading treatment of detainees, the imposition of the death penalty in the absence of proper judicial safeguards, the status of women, the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, and the erosion of civil and political rights, in particular, the harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and civil society actors,” writes Dr Shaheed.
“Several personal interviews revealed that individuals were often held in solitary confinement for long periods during the investigative phases of their cases. All of those interviewed with regard to their detention reported the consistent use of blindfolds when being transferred from solitary confinement, as well as during their interrogations.”
Human rights defenders, civil society organisations and religious actors had been charged with offences including acting against national security, insulting the Supreme Leader and “spreading propaganda against the regime”, Dr Shaheed noted.
“The majority of reports also highlight exorbitant bail requirements, reportedly totalling between US$10,000 and US$500,000, to guarantee the appearance before the court of those arrested for activities pertaining to civil, political or human rights.”
The report goes on to detail interviews with dozens of victims of the Iranian regime, including lawyers, students, artists, journalists and environmentalists as well as political activists.
In his report, Dr Shaheed raises particular concern over the use of the death penalty in cases where due process was denied to the accused, especially within the prison system.
“Secret group executions inside prisons, which reportedly occur in alarmingly high numbers, are often carried out without the knowledge and presence of families and lawyers,” Dr Shaheed notes.
“Capital punishment was also applied to cases regarding Mohareb or ‘enmity against God’, rape, murder, immoral acts or acts against chastity and kidnapping,” he added.
The report concludes with an appeal to the Iranian government to allow Dr Shaheed to visit the country so as to “develop dialogue with the authorities and either substantiate or lay
to rest allegations of human rights violations committed within its sovereign territory.”
In July, Iran’s secretary general of the country’s ‘High Council for Human Rights dismissed “the western-engineered appointment” of Dr Shaheed as Special Rapporteur as ”an illegal measure,” according to the Tehran Times.
“Iran has no problem with the individual who has been appointed as the special rapporteur, but the appointment of a rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran is unacceptable and Iran will not accept the decision,” Mohammad Javad Larijani was quoted as saying.
Dr Shaheed is to present his findings to the UN General Assembly on October 19.