Iran: young man tied to a tree and publicly flogged 80 times for drinking alcohol

The flogging was photographed and reported in local Iranian media © Amnesty International

 Man was convicted of drinking alcohol at a wedding when he was a teenager

‘That a child was prosecuted for consuming alcohol and sentenced to 80 lashes beggars belief’ - Philip Luther

A man in Iran has been publicly flogged after being convicted of consuming alcohol when he was 14 or 15 years old, an incident condemned as “horrific” by Amnesty International.

Article 265 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code states that the punishment for consumption of alcohol by a Muslim is 80 lashes, though under its international legal obligations Iran is obliged to forbid such punishments.

The punishment was carried out yesterday, when the man - identified only as “M.R.” - was flogged 80 times in Niazmand Square in the city of Kashmar, in Iran’s north-eastern Razavi Khorasan province.

Local media outlets have posted a photograph showing the young man tied to a tree as he was flogged on his back by a masked man, with a crowd of people watching at a distance.

According to Kashmar’s public prosecutor, M. R. had consumed alcohol during a wedding more than a decade ago where an argument caused a fight that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old. The public prosecutor has conceded that M.R. was not involved in the murder and that the flogging sentence was for drinking alcohol. 

According to the prosecutor, the “offence” took place in the Iranian year of 1385 (March 2006 to March 2007) and the sentence was issued more than ten years ago. It remain unclear why the sentence was carried out so long afterwards. M. R. was born in the Iranian year of 1370 (March 1991 to March 1992), which means he would have been 14 or 15 years old at the time of the alleged alcohol drinking incident.

Meanwhile, the judicial authorities in Iran have already imposed and carried out various forms of cruel punishments so far this year, including the amputation of a man’s hand for stealing. 

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, said:
 
“The circumstances of this case are absolutely shocking, representing another horrific example of the Iranian authorities’ warped priorities. 

“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 Iranian authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including on children, demonstrates a shocking disregard for basic humanity. 

“As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to forbid torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. It’s simply unacceptable that the Iranian authorities continue to allow such punishments and to justify them in the name of protecting religious morals.” 

More than 100 offences punishable by flogging

More than 100 “offences” are punishable by flogging under Iranian law, including theft, assault, vandalism, defamation and fraud. They also cover acts that should not be criminalised, such as adultery, intimate relationships between unmarried men and women, “breach of public morals” and consensual same-sex sexual relations. 

In January 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged Iran to “immediately repeal all provisions which authorise or condone cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of children”.

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