Back to Top is the premiere source for primary source information and nonpartisan, realistic analysis of Iran's nuclear program.

More about the site »

This section might be more accurately termed the lack of human rights in Iran.

According to the newest State Department Report on Human Rights, published in May 2013, Iran has one of the world's worst records when it comes to the treatment of its citizens.

Here is a summary of its findings:

The most egregious human rights problems were the government's severe limitations on citizens' right to peacefully change their government through free and fair elections; restrictions on civil liberties, including the freedoms of assembly, speech, and press; and the government's disregard for the physical integrity of persons whom it arbitrarily and unlawfully killed, tortured, and imprisoned.

Other reported human rights problems included: disappearances; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging; politically motivated violence and repression, such as beatings and rape; harsh and life-threatening conditions in detention and prison facilities, with instances of deaths in custody; arbitrary arrest and lengthy pretrial detention, sometimes incommunicado; continued impunity of security forces; denial of fair public trials, sometimes resulting in executions without due process; political prisoners and detainees; the lack of an independent judiciary; ineffective implementation of civil judicial procedures and remedies; arbitrary interference with privacy, home, and correspondence; severe restrictions on freedoms of speech (including via the Internet) and press; harassment of journalists; censorship and media content restrictions; severe restrictions on academic freedom; severe restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, association, and religion; some restrictions on freedom of movement; official corruption and lack of government transparency; constraints on investigations of international organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) into alleged violations of human rights; legal and societal discrimination and violence against women, children, ethnic and religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity; incitement to anti-Semitism and trafficking in persons; and severe restrictions on the exercise of labor rights.

The government took few steps to prosecute, punish, or otherwise hold accountable officials who committed abuses. Members of the security forces detained in connection with abuses were frequently released soon after their arrest, and judicial officials did not prosecute offenders. Impunity remained pervasive throughout all levels of government and the security forces.

The international community has also expressed increasing concern about human rights abuses in Iran. A draft resolution introduced in the UN General Assembly in November 2012 described "serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations," which include:

(A) Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations;

(B) The continuing alarming high frequency of the carrying-out of the death penalty in the absence of internationally recognized safeguards, including an increase in the number of public executions, notwithstanding the issuance of a circular by the former head of the judiciary prohibiting public executions, and secret group executions, as well as reports of executions undertaken without the notification of the prisoner's family members or legal counsel;

(C) The failure to abolish the execution of minors and persons who at the time of their offence were under the age of eighteen, in violation of the obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

(D) The imposition of the death penalty for crimes that lack a precise and explicit definition, including moharabeh (enmity against God), and/or for crimes that do not qualify as the most serious crimes, in violation of international law;

(E) The practice of suspension strangulation as a method of execution, and the fact that persons in prison continue to face sentences of execution by stoning, notwithstanding the issuance of a circular by the former head of the judiciary prohibiting stoning;

(F) Ongoing, systematic, widespread and serious restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of opinion and expression, including through efforts to block or filter Internet content, restrict access to foreign e-mail services and a variety of websites, jam international satellite transmission into the Islamic Republic of Iran, censor or close newspapers, magazines and other publications, and cut access to communications and information;

(G) The increasing and systematic targeting of human rights defenders, including, but not restricted to, lawyers, journalists, including intimidation of families of independent journalists from Persian-speaking media, and other media representatives, Internet providers, bloggers and netizens, who endure intimidation, interrogation, arrest, arbitrary detention, long-term exile and/or harsh sentences, including death sentences, as a result of their activities, and noting in particular the upholding of prison sentences against staff members of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre;

(H) Pervasive gender inequality and violence against women, a continued crackdown on women's human rights defenders, arrests, violent repression and sentencing of women exercising their right to peaceful assembly, and increased discrimination against women and girls in law and in practice, including by limiting access to higher education, including the closure of seventy-seven fields of study to women by thirty-six universities;

(I) Continued discrimination and other human rights violations, at times amounting to persecution, against persons belonging to ethnic, linguistic or other minorities, including Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis and Kurds and their defenders, and noting in particular reports of the violent suppression and detention of ethnic Arabs and Azeris, the violent repression of environmental protests in Azeri territory and the high rate of executions of persons belonging to minority groups, including the recent secret group execution of members of the Ahwazi Arab minority;

(J) Increased persecution and human rights violations against persons belonging to recognized religious minorities, including Christians, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Zoroastrians and their defenders, and noting in particular the widespread arrest and detention of Sufi Muslims and evangelical Christians, including the continued detention of Christian pastors;

(K) Increased persecution and human rights violations against persons belonging to unrecognized religious minorities, particularly members of the Baha'i faith and their defenders, including escalating attacks, an increase in the number of arrests and detentions, the restriction of access to higher education on the basis of religion, the sentencing of twelve Baha'is associated with Baha'i educational institutions to lengthy prison terms, the continued denial of access to employment in the public sector, additional restrictions on participation in the private sector, and the de facto criminalization of membership in the Baha'i faith;

(L) The continued and sustained house arrest of leading opposition figures from the 2009 presidential elections, as well as restrictions on their supporters and family members, including through harassment and intimidation;

(M) Ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, including arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention and lengthy jail sentences, for those exercising this right, and restrictions on the building of, as well as attacks against, places of worship and burial;

(N) Persistent failure to uphold due process of law, and violations of the rights of detainees, including the widespread and systematic use of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, the lack of access of detainees to legal representation of their choice, the refusal to consider granting bail to detainees, the poor conditions of prisons, including the serious overcrowding and poor level of sanitation, and the denial of access to medical treatment, as well as persistent reports of detainees dying in custody, being subjected to torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, harsh interrogation techniques and the use of pressure exerted upon their relatives and dependants, including through arrest, to obtain false confessions that are then used at trials;

(O) Continuing arbitrary or unlawful interference by State authorities with the privacy of individuals, in particular in relation to private homes, and with their correspondence, including telephone and e-mail communications, in violation of international law;