Thursday, June 26, 2008

Iran: Flogging an effective deterrent, says senior official

Tehran, 26 June (AKI) - Iran's highest judicial authority, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, says public flogging is an effective criminal deterrent, while imprisonment is a useless punishment.

In an interview broadcast on state TV on Wednesday night, the head of the country's Judicial Authority complained that "many Iranian judges, influenced by western propaganda and fearing they will be accused of failing to respect human rights, are not sentencing offenders to effective penalties like public flogging".

"Public flogging is one of most just sentences that can be inflicted on someone who has committed a crime," said Shahroudi.

"The publication of photos and news of public floggings is the best deterrent, while three or four months in prison has no effect," he said.

"We must reduce prison sentences and make use of public flogging more to punish offenders."

Last month, rights group Amnesty International urged Iranian courts to suspend flogging sentences.

"Flogging is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which amounts to torture," the organisation said.

Amnesty said it was outlawed under Article 7 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In its latest report, Amnesty International said sentences of flogging and amputation continued to be implemented in Iran, and torture and ill-treatment were widespread in prisons and detention centres.

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