Iran Human RightsUN experts worried about health of Iran’s political prisoners

UN experts worried about health of Iran’s political prisoners


Iran Focus

London, 30 Apr – Human rights experts from the United Nations have issued a warning over the fate of more than a dozen political prisoners in Iran. Aside from torture and abuse at the hands of prison guards, lawyers, activists and journalists are facing death due to the Iranian government’s refusal to provide medical treatment.

“The condition of several prisoners of conscience with serious health problems has been exacerbated by their continued detention and by repeated refusals to allow their access to the medical facilities and treatment they so urgently require” the United Nations experts said in a statement this week.

Amongst the political prisoners highlighted were Mohammad Hossein Rafiee Fanood and Kamal Foroughi, human rights defender Nargis Mohammadi, lawyer Abdulfattah Soltani, blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, religious figure Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi and experimental laser physicist Omid Kokabee.

Omid Kokabee is a successful scientist who was arrested after a visit to family in Iran from the United States in January 2011. He was put on trial for “communicating with a hostile government” and “illegitimate/illegal earnings” having been acquitted of “gathering and colluding against national security”. Kokabee was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer. Surgery was performed last week to remove his right kidney. The treatment was substantially delayed, complicating the matter. Said Khalili, Kokabee’s lawyer, has said the continuation of treatment is “far from certain”.

The UN experts called on the Iranian authorities to release “Omid Kokabee and other political prisoners on medical or humanitarian grounds” and reminded Iran of its obligations to meet international standards for prisoners’ right to health.

“The denial of medical care, physical abuse, either in overcrowded prisons or in solitary confinement and other forms of torture and ill-treatment exposes prisoners to risk of serious injuries and death”, they said.

Iran has the eighth biggest penitentiary population and executes more people than any country in the Middle East and North Africa region. Per capita its execution is the highest in the world. Healthcare is also in poor shape. For a country of its size Iran is middling-overall, but the potential of Iran is what makes the ratings disappointing. More so to think that the country’s reserves have been squandered on repressive domestic policy, military operations, and nuclear research.

The situation of human rights in Iran has been monitored by a UN Special Rapporteur for many years. The current rapporteur Mr. Ahmed Shaheed was one of the UN experts who contributed to the report. As was Mr. Dainius Pūras, UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Mr. Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mr. Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Human Rights Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts do not receive a salary for their work. It is performed on a voluntary basis and are not UN staff.



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