TEHRAN, Iran – In an unprecedented report, Iran's hard-line judiciary acknowledged widespread human rights violations in prisons, including the use of torture, state-run media reported Sunday.
The report said prison guards and officials in detention centers have ignored a legal order banning torture. It also said police have made several arrests without sufficient evidence and held suspects in undeclared detention centers.
The report, which was broadcast on state-run radio and appeared on the front page of several newspapers, said a judicial investigation had discovered human right violations including the "blindfolding and beating" of defendants, a 13-year-old boy jailed for stealing a hen, a woman who was imprisoned because her husband was a fugitive and a man who has been in prison since 1988 with a verdict in his case.
The report has been handed over to the head of judiciary Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi (search).
Abbas Ali Alizadeh (search), head of the Tehran Justice Administration, who drafted the report, said some detention centers run by the hard-line elite Revolutionary Guards had refused to admit inspectors or investigate whether prisoners' human rights were being respected.
Last year, Shahroudi ordered a ban on the use of torture for obtaining confessions — a move seen as Iran's first public acknowledgment of the practice.
Iran's constitution specifically outlaws torture, but human rights groups say the Islamic Republic's security forces routinely use it to extract confessions.
Iranian hard-liners have jailed several dozen reformist journalists and political activists and closed about 100 pro-democracy publications in the past five years for criticizing the rule of the country's unelected clerics.
In 2003, a special U.N. envoy visited Iran, during which he said he received "many complaints" regarding human rights violations, including torture, from pro-reform dissidents, writers and activists.
The bleak situation in Iranian prisons was highlighted by the case of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi (search), who died in jail July 2003 about three weeks after being detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during anti-government protests. Reformers said she was beaten to death.
Hard-line officials have long denied the use of torture in Iranian detention centers, despite complaints by intellectuals and student leaders of intolerable physical and psychological torture while being incarcerated.
Several journalists and political dissidents have said they made false confessions under duress.