Coerced Confessions in the Islamic Republic of Iran
August 15, 2007
Washington DC, August 15, 2007
Iran is witnessing a wave of publicly announced executions, unprecedented in more than a decade, and a serious crackdown on the government’s critics and proponents of legal reforms within civil society. With this new surge of state violence, the Islamic Republic's decades-long practice of using coerced confessions to establish detainees’ guilt is a great cause for concern and should be subject to serious international scrutiny. Since January 2007, at least 247 individualshave been executed and scores more have been sentenced to death. In the absence of an independent national mechanism to defend the detainees' rights, Iranians can only rely upon the international community’s outcry regarding the judicial process leading to these executions.
On July 18th and 19th, 2007, the international community's attention was drawn to the “confessions” of two Iranian-American academics, Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, broadcast on Iran’s state-run television network. Excerpts from the “confession” of Ramin Jahanbegloo, another Iranian scholar who was detained in 2006, were also added to the footage. All three had for years been carrying out activities that were legal and known to the government. All three were detained for months prior to their televised "interviews," interrogated repeatedly under harsh conditions, and denied visitation by family members or access to an attorney.