Prisoner dies of medical negligence in Iranian state custody

prisoner died

A prisoner held at Urmia Central Prison in northwest Iran died on July 8 as a result of the prison authorities’ medical negligence.

Ashkan Mehrivash passed away on Monday, July 8, because the prison’s defibrillator was not working.

Ashkan, detained in section 15 in West Azarbaijan province’s Urmia Prison on drug related charges, was taken to the prison clinic after suffering a heart attack.

Despite this, prison officials have reported his cause of death as a “drug overdose”.

According to Iranian human rights groups, one of the prison guards protested the official report and said that prison officials were blaming their medical negligence on the prisoner.

This is not the first time that a prisoner dies as a result of medical negligence in Iranian state custody. Despite this, officials have not taken any substantial measures to prevent these kinds of deaths.

The State Prisons Organization and the judiciary are responsible for keeping prisoners safe but to date no organization or individual has been held responsible for the deaths.

Iran’s prisons are notoriously harsh. Prisoners are usually held in overcrowded, unsanitary and poorly ventilated conditions. This, combined with the denial of adequate medical care, often exacerbates prisoners’ pre-existing medical problems or contributes to new problems, causing irreparable damage to their health.

An Amnesty International report published in July 2016 revealed that in addition to deliberately delaying or refusing urgent specialised medical care for political prisoners, prison authorities in Iran have regularly downplayed or dismissed the seriousness of their medical problems, treated serious ailments with simple painkillers and withheld essential medication.

Protesting to the extremely excruciating prison conditions in mid june, Bahram Tajic, a political prisoner in the notorious Gohardasht Prison, Karaj, west of Tehran, committed suicide on Saturday as he could no longer tolerate the inhumane ordeal.

A confidential report leaked out of Gohardasht Prison indicates the warden and regime authorities threatened other prisoners and his cellmates not to reveal the real cause of his death and only say he died of “heart attack”.