The death of a prisoner is considered an extrajudicial execution, which is an international crime
Amnesty International published a report on April 12, 2022, accusing the Iranian authorities of committing shocking human rights violations in Iran. “In death’s waiting room: Deaths in custody following deliberate denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons” details the circumstances surrounding the death in custody of 92 men and four women in 30 prisons in 18 provinces across Iran from January 2010 until the present.
The collective research is based on documents gathered by this international organization, from illustrative examples, long-standing findings into the deliberate denial of adequate medical care in prisons across Iran, and conducting thorough investigations into the reports given by independent human rights groups and organizations.
AI’s report highlights that the Iranian officials are committing shocking violations of the right to life by deliberately denying ailing prisoners lifesaving healthcare and refusing to investigate and ensure accountability for unlawful deaths in custody.
Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said, “Iranian authorities’ chilling disregard for human life has effectively turned Iran’s prisons into a waiting room of death for ill prisoners, where treatable conditions tragically become fatal.”
Diana Eltahawy also said, “Deaths in custody resulting from the deliberate denial of healthcare amount to arbitrary deprivation of life, which is a serious human rights violation under international law.”
She also empathized that if the persons responsible intended to kill the prisoner or knew with a considerable degree of certainty that death would be the obvious consequence of their illegal acts but have continued their behavior, then the death of a prisoner is considered an extrajudicial execution, which is an international crime.
Amnesty International also indicated that the 96 cases reviewed are illustrative rather than exhaustive since the actual number of deaths in custody due to deprivation of medical care is likely far higher. The reason is that human rights violations in Iran often go unreported due to well-founded fears of reprisals and the authorities’ unrelenting repression of civil society and independent media.
The list of cases excludes deaths in custody involving credible reports of physical torture or the lethal use of firearms, which Amnesty International addressed in a separate statement in September 2021.
Deadly denial of ailing prisoners
Amnesty International has also documented the fatal consequences of prison authorities’ prevention of standard procedures or delaying the emergency transfer of prisoners with acute conditions to the hospital.
Amnesty has also registered how prison authorities have deprived prisoners of adequate medical care during their incarceration. Denial of examination and diagnostic tests, regular check-ups, and post-operative care worsened the health problems of previously sick prisoners. They inflicted additional pain and suffering on them. They ultimately caused or contributed to their untimely deaths.
Women political prisoners denied medical care
Among the female political prisoners currently denied medical treatment is Kurdish political prisoner Zeinab Jalalian. She suffers from various diseases in prison, including asthma, pterygium, thrush, and gastrointestinal discomfort. The Ministry of Intelligence has conditioned Zeinab’s medical treatment on her expressing regret, cooperating with the Ministry of Intelligence, and appearing in television interviews. She has been in captivity since 2007 without a day off, even for treatment.
Fatemeh Alizadeh, 53, from Kermanshah, also died in the Central Prison of Urmia in April 2020. She was in critical condition a day before she lost her life. Despite informing medical staff, none of them took any action to save her. Fatemeh Alizadeh was infected with Coronavirus in prison.