Iran Criticized for Flogging Man Convicted for Drinking Alcohol as a Teen

July 12, 2018 Updated: July 12, 2018

Amnesty International is accusing Iran’s justice system of showing a “shocking disregard for basic humanity” by publicly flogging a man because 10 years ago he drank alcohol at a wedding.

The man, who was identified only as M.R., got 80 lashes in Kashmar on Tuesday, the human rights organization stated on Wednesday.

“The circumstances of this case are absolutely shocking, representing another horrific example of the Iranian authorities’ warped priorities,” Philip Luther, of Amnesty, said in a statement. “No one, regardless of age, should be subjected to flogging; that a child was prosecuted for consuming alcohol and sentenced to 80 lashes beggars belief.”

The organization published a photo of a man with red welts on his back as he was tied to a tree. A masked man wearing all-black is seen holding what appears to be a whip. A crowd is gathered around.

The man consumed alcohol during a wedding more than a decade ago, Amnesty said. “The flogging sentence was issued 10 years ago,” the group said, adding that it isn’t clear “why the sentence was carried out after over a decade.” Under Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, a Muslim drinking alcohol should be punished by 80 lashes.

Theft, assault, vandalism, defamation, and fraud can be punishable by flogging, said Amnesty.

“The use of cruel and inhuman punishments such as flogging, amputation and blinding are an appalling assault on human dignity and violate the absolute prohibition on torture and other degrading treatment or punishment under international law,” added Luther.

In just this year, there have been a number of cruel or unusual punishments meted out in Iran. In one instance, a man’s hand was amputated for stealing.

“The Iranian authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including on children, demonstrates a shocking disregard for basic humanity. They should immediately abolish all forms of such punishment, which in Iran includes amputation and blinding as well as flogging,” Luther added.

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Human Rights Watch, in its latest yearly report on Iran, criticized the country’s poor human rights record despite elections. It said that Iran’s “courts, and particularly the revolutionary courts, regularly fell short of providing fair trials and used confessions obtained under torture as evidence in court.”

“Authorities continued to restrict freedoms of expression, association and assembly and prosecuted dozens of journalists, online media activists, and trade unionists” on dubious charges, HRW said.

“Freedom of expression and media independence are severely limited both online and offline,” says rights group Freedom House, while adding that “news and analysis are heavily censored, while critics and opposition members are rarely, if ever, given a platform on state-controlled television, which remains a major source of information for many Iranians.”