January 21, 2016 - Updated on March 8, 2016

Iran must stop denying medical care to imprisoned journalists

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the appalling conditions in which journalists are detained in Iran and calls on the authorities to stop denying them medical attention.

RSF is very concerned about the state of health of some of these detained journalists, and already wrote to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on 14 March 2015 urging him to intercede.

The victims include Hossien Ronaghi Malki, a citizen-journalist who has had several kidney operations. Originally arrested on 13 December 2010 and granted a medical parole on 18 June 2015 on bail of 1.4 billion toman (500,000 euros), he was recalled and reimprisoned yesterday to resume serving a 17-year sentence in defiance of medical advice. His life is now in danger.

He should have been freed under article 134 of the Islamic criminal code (as amended in 2013), which stipulates that a defendant convicted on several criminal charges serves only the main sentence.

Said Razavi Faghih, a journalist detained since 24 February 2014, should have been released on completing a one-year sentence in March 2015 but, at the end of a an unfair trial, he was given a new sentence of three and a half years in prison on charges of anti-government publicity and insulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Assembly of Experts.

After undergoing a heart operation on 12 January 2015, he awoke in a pool of blood on his hospital bed and demanded to be returned to his cell in Rajaishahr prison. His brother said: “We alerted the judicial authorities about his alarming state of health on several occasions and, if anything happens to him, we will regard it as murder.”

Narges Mohammadi
, a journalist and spokesperson for the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, was arrested on 5 May 2015 to serve a six-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, where she is not getting the medical care she needs. Her husband Taghi Rahmani, a fellow journalist now living in exile in France, said: “She does not have regular access to medicine. This could endanger her health.”

She is supposed to be tried again on various charges including “cooperating with Islamic State,” but the trial has been postponed three times since June. In October she was taken to a Tehran hospital, where she spent ten days handcuffed to a bed before being returned to prison against the advice of her doctors. She has not been allowed to contact her husband or children.

Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, a citizen-journalist with dual Iranian and British citizenship who is serving a five-year sentence, has fainted several times in her cell in the women’s wing of Evin prison. After falling as a result of one of these fits on 7 December, she was taken to the prison infirmary where a doctor found her condition to be “normal” and injected with a tranquilizer. The next day she had convulsions and lost consciousness. A neurologist said her fainting was due to a “drug prescription error by the infirmary” and requested her transfer to a specialized hospital. Prison officials refused, presumably to cover up the prison’s mistakes.

We point out that under articles 102 and 103 of Iran’s prison regulations, adopted by the judicial body that oversees the prison system, prison officials must provide detainees with any medical care they need,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan desk.

And according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party, depriving detainees of medical care constitutes a violation of the ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”