Iran: Grave concern over lack of access to medical care for sick prisoners of conscience

Press release
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FIDH expresses its deep concern about Iranian authorities’ refusal to give sick prisoners of conscience access to adequate medical care, resulting in further deterioration of their health, and fears this may amount to a systematic practice aiming at further intimidating civil society voices critical of the regime. While Iran must immediately release all prisoners of conscience, it must guarantee all prisoners access to appropriate health services.

On March 2, 2014, several prisoners of conscience detained in Evin prison, Tehran, wrote their second open letter to the Head of the Iranian Judiciary to draw his attention to the lack of access to adequate medical treatment and facilities for sick detainees. They also stated that Judge Salavati (First Instance Branch 15 of the unconstitutional Islamic Revolution Court) was responsible for the lack of access to medical treatment of a number of prisoners.

Scores of ill prisoners in Iran are deprived from access to proper medical and health services. Tehran’s Evin prison officials are preventing a number of currently sick human rights defenders from access to adequate medical treatment. A non-inclusive list of such human rights defenders includes the following [1]:

Ms. Bahareh Hedayat, a student and women’s rights defender, could be deprived from the possibility to have children, by denial of the right to pursue treatment out of prison. Mr. Hamidreza Moradi-Sarvestani, a manager of the Dervishes website who suffers from blockage of arteries, was hospitalised two weeks ago but was sent back to prison before he could receive his open heart surgery. Three other Dervishes are also in need of medical care. Mr. Mostafa Daneshju, a lawyer who has breathing problems, and was returned to jail from hospital before having access to necessary heart treatment. Mr. Afshin Karampour, a jurist, suffers from pains in kidneys and spinal cord which impede him from moving. Mr. Amir Eslami, another lawyer, is suffering from heart problems and migraine. Messrs Abdolfattah Soltani (lawyer), Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki (blogger), and Mohammad Davari (journalist) are also among the human rights defenders who are being refused the possibility to pursue their required medical treatment.

In addition, several other political prisoners have recently been denied access to proper medical care including: Messrs. Akbar Amini, Shahram Ahmadi, Arash Sharifi, Asghar Ghatan, Ali Salanpour, Mohammad Hossein Na’iminpour, Mohammad Sadeq Rabbani-Amlashi, Behzad Arab-Gol and Mohammad Amin Hadavi.

Iranian authorities deny prisoners access to medical care on purpose”, commented FIDH president Karim Lahidji. “They punish prisoners of conscience twice: first by arbitrarily arresting and imprisoning them, then by creating unbearable conditions of detention, including deprivation from medical treatment for sick prisoners, that aggravates further their bad health and physical conditions”.

FIDH recalls that the United Nations Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (1990) states that all “prisoners shall have access to the health services available in the country without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation” and that they “shall retain the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and [...] United Nations covenants”. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has found that the right to health of all detained persons is engaged under Articles 6 (right to life), Article 7 (prohibition of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and Article 10 (right of all persons deprived of their liberty to be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a State Party.

FIDH calls upon the Iranian authorities to give all imprisoned human rights defenders and activists immediate access to adequate medical treatment and health care, to promptly release all prisoners of conscience since they are arbitrarily detained, and to conform with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ICCPR and all other international human rights instruments ratified by Iran.

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