Amnesty International alarmed by the death sentences of three prisoners in Iran

Amnesty International alarmed by the death sentences of three prisoners in Iran
# 18 January 2013 00:01 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Amnesty International is alarmed by recent reports indicating that the implementation of the death sentences of three prisoners – two from Iran’s Kurdish minority, Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, and one who is a member of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority who is also a follower of the Ahl-e Haq faith,Yunes Aghayan – may be imminent. The organization is calling on the Iranian authorities to halt their executions and to overturn their death sentences. They must be granted re-trials in proceedings which comply with international standards, and without recourse to the death penalty, APA reports quoting official webpage of Amnesty International.

Amnesty International is also deeply concerned that these three men have alleged that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention in order to force them to “confess” and were sentenced to death after unfair trials. Where individuals face the ultimate penalty of execution, it is all the more important that their trials adhere scrupulously to international fair trial standards.

Amnesty International urges the Iranian government to impose a moratorium on all executions, and to ratify promptly and without reservation the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Effective measures should be put in place to ensure that no one held in Iran is tortured or otherwise ill-treated and that anyone suspected of torture or other ill-treatment is prosecuted and brought to trial in fair proceedings, without recourse to the death penalty.

In 2012, the Iranian authorities are believed to have executed over 500 people, including over 180 executions that have not been officially announced. The majority of those executed were convicted of drug trafficking.

Members of the Kurdish minority live mainly in the west and north-west of the country, in the province of Kordestan and neighbouring provinces bordering Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iraq. At the time of writing over 20 Kurdish prisoners are believed to be on death row in connection with their alleged membership of and activities for proscribed Kurdish organizations. At least seven Kurds were executed on 26 December 2012 in Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj near Tehran on charges of “membership in Salafist groups" and "participation in terrorist acts, including the assassination of a Friday prayer Imam in Sanandaj in 2009".

The Ahl-e Haq are followers of a religion sharing aspects of Islam’s tenets founded in the 14th century, who live mainly in Iraq and western Iran. Most members are Kurdish, with smaller numbers from other ethnic minorities including Azerbaijanis.

While Article 3(14) of the Iranian Constitution guarantees equality to minorities in Iran, members of Iran’s religious and ethnic minorities face widespread religious, economic and cultural discrimination in laws and practice, as well as in their interactions with the judicial system. The Ahl-e Haq faith is not recognized under Iranian law and its rituals are prohibited. Under Article 13 of Iran’s Constitution, only three religious minorities – Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians – are entitled to practise their faith. The Ahl-e Haq are also banned from discussing their faith with the media.

Prolonged detention without charge facilitates torture or other ill-treatment and is in contravention of fair trial standards. Iranian law prevents suspects from having access to a lawyer until charges are formally brought, which can take months.

Under Article 38 of the Iranian Constitution and Article 9 of the Law on Respect for Legitimate Freedoms and Safeguarding Citizens’ Rights, all forms of torture for the purpose of obtaining “confessions” are prohibited. Iran’s Penal Code also provides for the punishment of officials who torture citizens in order to obtain “confessions”. However, despite these legal and constitutional guarantees regarding the inadmissibility of testimony, oath, or confession taken under duress, forced “confessions” are sometimes broadcast on television even before the trial has concluded and are generally accepted as evidence in Iranian courts. Such broadcasts violate Iran’s fair trial obligations under Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party. They also violate Iranian law, including Article 37 of the Constitution, Article 2 of the 2004 Law on Respect for Legitimate Freedoms and Safeguarding Citizens’ Rights and Note One to Article 188 of Iran’s Criminal Code of Procedure which criminalizes the publishing of the name and identity of a convict in the media before a final sentence has been passed.