Iranian authorities have amputated the hand of a man convicted of theft in Sari Prison in Mazandaran Province, northern Iran, the state-run media reported Wednesday.
The judiciary’s official news website, Mizan said after several cases of theft in the northern cities of Mahmoud Abad and Nour, the hand amputation sentence was carried out in Sari prison in the presence of judicial authorities.
The Mazandaran Judiciary said that “dealing with thieves would increase the people’s sense of security”.
The man’s name was not mentioned in the report.
The Iranian authorities have consistently defended amputation as the best way to deter theft, expressing regret that it cannot be practiced in public and on a widespread basis without international condemnation.
The last time a hand amputation verdict was carried out in Iran was in January 2018 when a 34-year-old man, referred to as A. Kh., who was also convicted of theft, had his hand cut off. The amputation, which was conducted by guillotine, took place in the central prison in Mashhad city in north-eastern Razavi Khorasan province. He was sentenced to hand amputation six years ago for stealing livestock and other valuables from several villages in the province.
In May, there were reports that 23 prisoners convicted of theft were waiting for their hand amputation sentences to be carried out in the Greater Tehran Prison.
According to human rights sources, between 2007 and 2017, the Iranian authorities issued at least 215 amputation sentences and carried out 125 amputations, including at least six amputations in public.
Iran’s Attorney-General recently criticized the “low numbers” of hand amputation punishments in Iran as a result of human rights condemnations and called it “unfortunate”.
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.”
“One of the mistakes that we make is that we are afraid of human rights (propaganda) and that they say that you treat thieves violently,” he added in a meeting with police commanders on 16 January 2019.
The senior judicial official criticized the lower rates of amputation 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.
Under the Article 201 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code the following punishments would be carried out for theft:
(a) On the first occasion, amputation of the full length of four fingers of the right hand of the thief in such a manner that the thumb and palm of the hand remain.
(b) On the second occasion, amputation of the left foot from the end of the knob [on the foot] in such a manner that half of the sole and part of the place of anointing [during ablution] remain.
(c) On the third occasion, life imprisonment.
(d) On the fourth occasion, the death penalty even though the theft is committed in prison.
However, amputation as a legal punishment violates Article 7 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibits subjecting people “to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”
According to Amnesty International “Amputation is torture plain and simple, and administering torture is a crime under international law. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to forbid torture in all circumstances and without exception. Those responsible for ordering and executing such practices should know that they are liable to criminal prosecution under international law.”