23 prisoners in Iran at risk of having their hands amputated

Twenty-three prisoners convicted of theft are languishing in the Great Tehran Penitentiary, Fashafoyeh, awaiting hand amputation. Reports indicate that the hand of one of the prisoners is to be amputated in the coming days.

The prisoner has been identified as Alireza Khan Baluchi and his verdict has been sent to the Sentence Implementation Department.

Baluchi was convicted of theft seven years ago. His hand is to be amputated despite the fact that he has paid back the stolen property.

Investigations show that prisoners are sentenced to amputation on charges of petty crimes. Most of them have stolen property which amounts to 5-10 million tomans (Around 300-600 USD).

Iran’s Attorney-General recently expressed regret that a number of “divine punishments” are set aside to save Iran from being condemned by international bodies.

In comments carried by the Fars News Agency, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said that the hands of thieves had to be amputated but that “unfortunately, so as not be condemned on human rights issues in the United Nations, we have abandoned some of the divine laws.”

Montazeri reiterated on Wednesday, January 16, “Based on Quran, God, the passionate and merciful has categorically ruled that the hands of a man or a woman, if proved guilty of theft, should be amputated.”

Furthermore, the prosecutor-general insisted that being scared of international protests against the implementation of hudud is “wrong”, adding sarcastically, “They (the West) tell us that we are treating the thieves with violence.”

Montazeri has admitted, “We have set aside hudud, lest be condemned by the international bodies.”

The senior judicial official criticized the lower rates of amputation in Iran even while acknowledging that the reason behind the rise in the robbery was Iran’s dire economic conditions.

He said that “unemployment” and the “closure of factories” were all effective in the higher numbers.

The last reported case, Iranian authorities amputated the hand of a man convicted of theft. The amputation, which was conducted by guillotine, took place on January 18, 2018 in the central prison in Mashhad city in north-eastern Razavi Khorasan province.

According to the state-run newspaper Khorasan News the victim was a 34-year-old man identified by his first name as A. Kh.

In a statement, Amnesty International said that such an “unspeakably cruel” punishment (hand amputation in Iran) showed the Iranian authorities’ “complete disregard for human dignity.”

“There is no place for such brutality in a robust criminal justice system,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at the London-based rights group.

“Amputation is torture plain and simple, and administering torture is a crime under international law,” Mughrabi added.

The authorities have defended amputations in Iran as the best way to deter theft.

They unveiled their latest innovation in criminal punishment – a machine that cuts off the fingers of thieves.

Photographs appearing to show a blindfolded man having his fingers severed by the mechanical amputation device was published by an official Iranian press agency in 2013.

Under hudud, apostasy, sexual rapports outside marriage, sodomy, drinking alcohol, theft, and highway robbery are the crimes that should be punished without any compassion.

International human rights conventions, which Iran is a party of, categorically reject punishments such as amputations and blinding, describing them as “torture”.

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