Health professionals document evidence of torture in Iran

by zoejardiniere

15.03.2013. Freedom from Torture has released a report this week entitled ‘We will make you regret everything’ in which are detailed 50 case studies of torture perpetrated by Iranian officials on individuals in detention in Iran since the 2009 presidential elections. The case studies are based on Medical Legal Reports (MLR) submitted in support of the asylum applications of the individuals concerned. Some have now been granted refugee status in the UK, while others still await a decision.

Freedom from Torture urges states of asylum and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure that the evidence of torture in Iran is reflected in policy guidance for risk assessment when evaluating claims for protection by Iranian citizens, and to ensure access to specialist torture rehabilitation services for Iranian torture survivors.

The report finds evidence of the systematic use of physical and psychological torture in Iran, and argues that the cases described only represent a small proportion of the problem. Torture is shown to have been used against individuals who had been involved in political activity either prior to or following the 2009 elections but also, in 13 cases, against individuals with no personal history of activism or dissent. In these cases their treatment was linked to the political activities of the individual’s family members or associates, or to a family history of religious, ethnic or political dissent, in some cases dating back decades. Torture was often used to extract ‘confessions’ from victims. 90% of the individuals from the report suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and 84% suffer from depression.

Keith Best, CEO of Freedom from Torture told the ECRE Weekly Bulletin, “In our long experience of working in this field, it is not unusual for Iranian survivors of torture to have their torture accounts disbelieved in the asylum context. Freedom from Torture hopes that our new study will assist asylum decision-makers to make informed decisions concerning torture practices in Iran”. He has also emphasised that continued vigilance and pressure must be maintained in order to prevent the situation from being repeated in the aftermath of the up-coming presidential elections in Iran in June.

For further information:

–         Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council website

–         Secretary General of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 28 February 2013

–         Islamic Republic of Iran, Detailed reply to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, March 2013

–         International Humanist and Ethical Union, Iran admits torture following pressure from the IHEU at the UN, 12 March 2013

–         BBC World Service News Hour, Iran Report, 11 March 2013