Iran Cuts Off Prisoner’s Hand After Finding Him Guilty of Theft, Rights Group Says

October 25, 2019 Updated: October 26, 2019

Human rights group Amnesty International criticized Iran after the regime announced it cut off the hand of a man who was convicted of theft.

“By carrying out this unspeakably cruel punishment, the Iranian authorities have committed torture which is a crime under international law,” said Amnesty’s Saleh Higazi in a statement the group’s website on Thursday.

He added: “Reforms to Iran’s penal code that would put an end to this outrageous practice are long overdue. Iranian parliamentarians must immediately undertake reforms to abolish all forms of corporal punishment and move towards a criminal justice system that treats prisoners humanely and focuses on rehabilitation.”

Iran’s northern province of Mazandaran announced that a man who was jailed for several robberies was punished by having his hand cut off in a prison in the city of Sari, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty reported. The BBC reported that his fingers were cut off, not his hand.

He had confessed to 28 counts of theft, officials claimed, adding that the punishment was meted out to be consistent on a “policy to crack down, severely and without hesitation, on those who disrupt public order and security and steal public funds.”

The name of the prisoner who received the punishment was not disclosed.

An Iranian woman walks past a mural of depicting the Iranian national flag in a street in capital Tehran, on Sept. 19, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

But Higazi said that “premeditated maiming and mutilation of individuals is not justice. It is a harrowing assault against human dignity. It is shameful that the authorities would attempt to present this punishment as anything other than what it is: an abhorrent form of torture.”

In providing background on the case, Amnesty pointed to Iran’s regulatory code that allows for corporal punishments such as amputation. The regime said that it requires the presence of a physician, but Amnesty said that it doesn’t matter.

“This is in direct violation of ethical guidelines and international human rights law, which expressly prohibit health providers’ involvement in torture and other ill-treatment,” according to the London-based human rights organization.

Mazandaran, Iran (Google Maps)

In the past, Iran has imposed punishments described in the Koran, such as stonings, blindings, and floggings as well as amputations, RFE/RL noted. Similar punishments have been handed down in Saudi Arabia and Somalia, the BBC noted.

Iranian media in 2018 reported that a 34-year-old unnamed man had his hands publicly chopped off for stealing livestock in Razavi Khorasan province.

And last year, Iran was blasted by human rights organizations for flogging a man who was convicted of drinking alcohol as a teenager, which was 10 years prior to the punishment.

At the time, Amnesty had critical words for the regime.

“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.”