Explaining the rights of detainees, protecting their dignity and how to supervise the detention centers

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Circular to all provincial prisons departments

Explaining the rights of detainees, protecting their dignity and how to supervise the detention centers

Provincial prisons departments are required to observe the following guidelines with regards to suspects under custody in line with due consideration for civil and citizenship and Islamic rights of the suspects during their period of incarceration in public, security, police and military detention centers and in compliance with the Law on Respecting Legitimate Rights and Protection of Citizenship Rights (ratified in 2003), Law on Criminal Proceedings, articles 2, 3 and 109 and other regulations included in bylaws of the Prisons and Security and Corrective Measures Organization (PSCMO) (ratified in 2021), the bylaw on the management of security detention centers (ratified in 2018) the bylaw on administration and supervision of police detention centers (2012), bylaw on creation and administration of detention centers dedicated to suspects of special crimes (2010), instructions on establishment of units for protection of citizenship rights of citizens (2006) and considering the laws on minimum standards of the United Nations in treating prisoners (the so-called Nelson Mandela laws, ratified in 2015 by the UN General Assembly) and UN laws on treatment of female prisoners (known as Bangkok Declaration of 2010) and in order to prepare the ground for full supervision by the PSCMO on those detention centers and emphasizing the need to protect all rights of the prisoners under the country’s laws.

A-Rights of suspects upon arriving in detention centers

1- No suspects should be admitted into detention centers without a verified written arrest warrant while principles reiterated in article 2 of the PSCMO’s executive bylaw should be strictly complied with in all criminal settings especially in the detention centers. An electronic system should also be set up and operate continuously with proper access for individuals and connected to Iran’s Comprehensive System on Information of Prisoners (SEJAZA) for the purpose of online registration of identity and the legal information of the detainees and to register incidents and the data related to “situation case”, “behavior case” and “supervision case”. (Articles 2 and 63 of PSCMO’s executive bylaw, sub-article 10 of the bylaw on establishment, administration and supervision of police detention centers ratified in 2012 and article 6 of the executive bylaw on administration of security detention centers ratified in 2018).

2-Authroities in the prison must provide the detainee with free and round-the-clock access to phone communication with family and lawyer within the initial 48 hours of the person’s detention. (Article 50 of the Bylaw on Criminal Proceedings and sub-article 2 of article 59 of the PSCMO’S executive bylaw).

3-Head of the detention center or head of the legal affairs unit in the center is responsible to carry out daily visits to the newly-admitted detainees to educate them in person about their rights and responsibilities and to use various methods for better delivery of this training. The detained suspects should have proper access to law books and guideline pamphlet explaining their rights and responsibilities in all detention centers (according to sub-article D of article 109 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw).

4-Identity verification of the suspects through fingerprints is illegal unless such verification is not possible through national ID number or similar methods including modern and proper methods like biometrics. (Sub-article 1 of article 56 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw).

5-Upon arrival in the detention center, the suspect is examined for forbidden, precious materials or cash and then the materials are confiscated using a notice which is registered in the electronic system and delivered to the suspect along with a debit card by which he or she can buy sustenance or other necessities from shops inside the detention centers. The money remaining in the debit card will be handed over to the suspect upon release. Personal and sanitary products including underwear, two blankets, mid-size bath and hand towel, toothpaste and brush, shampoo and soap and a pair of slippers should be delivered to suspects free of any charges.

6-Phisical examination of the suspect and inspection of his or her personal belongings upon arrival and exit from the detention centers and dormitories is mandatory and this inspections must be carried out in a room equipped with camera and by trained physical protection officers of the same sex and if possible through electronic equipments. (Article 53 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

7-Nude physical examination of internal parts of the body of the suspects is forbidden unless there is a need and it should be decided by head of the admission section and carried out in a private area without the presence of cameras and by trained officers of the same sex and by observing moral and hygiene principles and if possible via electronic devices and considering laws and regulations of Iran’s ministry of health with regards to bisexual persons. (Article 53 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

8-In line with sub-article 226 of Criminal Proceedings Law, the suspect should be provided with access to people who he or she introduces for finding a lawyer or for delivery of collateral. Authorities and staffs at the detention center should inform the head of the center about any improper warrant they receive while they also upload the warrant to the online system. The head of the detention center is also required to inform the executive judge and PSCMO’S deputy for judicial affairs about the warrant.

9-In case the detained person has signs of a serious injury as a result of brawl or claims so before being admitted to the detention center, authorities should take pictures from those signs and refer the person to the infirmary after signing a document by the officer in charge. The entire process should be reported to the head of the detention center so that it can be registered and reported to the judicial authority. (Article 54 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw and articles 37, 38 and 44 of section A of article 45 of the criminal proceedings law)

10- Prisoners with serious diseases or deteriorating physical condition or those injured or wounded who need medical care and treatment in hospital based on the opinion of the detention center’s physician or a trusted physician, must not be admitted until their condition stabilizes while they should be immediately referred to a health center and the entire process should be reported to the related judicial authority.

11-After admission, the suspect must be immediately examined, screened and interviewed for physical and mental health by the doctor and psychologist in the detention center (to open a health and personality case). If he suspect has physical or mental defect or disease based on the results of the examinations and the evidences and if his or her detention could pose physical or mental risks to the person or other suspects or if the proper and safe condition for detention do not exist or if detention could lead to a deterioration of the condition or delay in recovery from the illness, the issue must be immediately reported to the head of the detention center so that he or she can convey the issue to the related judicial authority. In emergency cases, the ill suspects are transferred to hospital or health centers outside the detention center upon the order of head of the health unit and with consent from head of the center and the issue should be reported to the judicial authority. During the detention period, the head of the health unit is required to either personally or through expert medical staff examine or monitor the detained suspects on a daily basis and in a continuous manner for diagnosis and treatment purposes.

12-If authorities and staff in the detention center or inspectors see that judicial officers commit any form of illegal behavior during interrogation of the suspects (including beating, blindfolding, humiliation or covering head or face of the suspect) they should warn the wrongdoing person and immediately report the issue to the head of the detention center and the judicial authority. (Articles 37, 44, 60, 72 of Criminal Proceedings Law, sub-article 2 of article 3 and article 336 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw and section 6 of the Law on Legal Freedoms and Protection of Citizenship Rights).

13- Head of the detention center is required to report to the judicial authority in case of facing a suspect who claims to have repented or have been punished and the report should be based on evidences and documents (including consent from the claimant, addiction rehabilitation, and contribution to programs in the detention center). (Section C of article 24 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw and articles 114, 115 and 118 of Islamic Punishment Code).

14- The detention center has to provide access to verified interpreters for suspects who are unable to speak the official language of the country. Sign interpreters should also be available for deaf people or those who are unable to speak. The presence of interpreter is mandatory during medical examinations, interviews and sessions held to study disciplinary and judicial issues (Article 111 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

B- Rights of detained suspects with regards to classification

1- Keeping the convicts (including those pending appeal) in detention center or in wards dedicated to suspects is forbidden as it is for suspects who are held in wards dedicated to convicts. (Sub-article 2 of article 513 and article 514 of Criminal Proceedings Law and article 31 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

2- Heads of all detention centers are required to classify the suspects within the framework of law and to observe regulations and laws stipulated in section R of article 1 and articles 22, 27, 33, 34, 36, 37 and 68 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw. Any personal way of treating the law on classification or violating it is forbidden unless there is an emergency case in which classification should be decided by the head of the detention center and the issue should be reported to the related judicial authority.

3- Young suspects should be kept separate from adults (article 33 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

4- All wards should be visited at least two times per night without prior notice so that the implementation of the regulations can be guaranteed (Section H of article 12 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

5- Classifying the suspects does not mean solitary confinement.

C- With regards to physical, mental health and observing human values

1- All inmates or suspects should be treated in a respectable way considering their intrinsic and human values, and any form of torture or inhumane and humiliating behavior and any form of discrimination and use of personal attitudes with regards to race, sexuality, language, religion, political believes or economic situation is forbidden. Safety and security of the prisoners, prison staff, suppliers of services and visitors must be guaranteed under any circumstances (article 2 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

2-The facilities in the prison and the way the prison and detention centers are administered should seek to minimize the difference between life in prison and life in the situation of freedom so that it could lead to re-socialization of the prisoners and can match their human values. Access to amenities should be higher in detention centers compared with other wards in the prison. The rights of the suspects should be guaranteed based on the highest possible standards in all detention centers. (Sub-article 2 of article 9 and article 31 of the PSCMO’S executive bylaw).

3- Managers of detention centers and prisons must ensure there is proper accommodation places and devices so that they can guarantee that all detainees with physical and mental and other disabilities have full and effective access to a life inside prison which is based on fairness and Islamic and human morals (Article 4 and 110 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw).

4- Detainees must comply with sanitary rules and should have access to hot water and sanitary products to maintain personal and environmental hygiene while they should have access to all required amenities needed for exercise, going for fresh air, bath, study, medical services, drinking water and proper food. (Articles 974, 126, 128, 129, 153 and 154 of the PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

5- The doctor or head of the infirmary in the detention center must, if deemed necessary, issue a report to head of the center showing that physical and mental condition of a suspect or prisoner is deteriorating or may deteriorate if the person remains in custody (Articles 60, 144, 151 and 297 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

6- Committing any felonies like aggressiveness, insulting remarks or behavior or any form of physical or mental torturing of the prisoners and detained suspects is strictly forbidden and would entail disciplinary, policing or criminal proceeding (Article 108 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

7- Use of handcuffs or electronic tags inside the dentition center is forbidden unless the suspect acts in a dangerous way so that the person may injure or harm himself or herself or other people. In such a case, the issue is reported by head of the detention center within 12 hours to the executive or the reserve judges while considering the proportionality and necessity of the case and a decision is made based on the judicial order. In any case, use of such equipment for the prisoner will not be allowed for a period of more than 24 hours and to eliminate the dangerous situation one must use consultation and physiological services, among other things (Article 116 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw).

8- Shaving the head and face of the prisoner in an unconventional manner without his consent is forbidden (article 124 of PSCMO’S executive order)

9- Going for fresh air should be allowed for the suspects at least two times a day (each time at least one hour) and wrongdoing prisoners subject to articles 28 and 29 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw should also be allowed to go for fresh air at least for one hour per day. (Article 29 and sub-article 1 of article 64 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

10- The food offered to suspects and staff in the detention center should be of the same type and should comply with standards of quality and quantity approved by related authorities. Ill prisoners, pregnant women, breastfeeding babies and their mothers must enjoy special diets (article 154 of the PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

11- Head of the prison’s infirmary should continuously supervise the following issues and report them to the head of the institution: The situation of data registry in health and personality cases, illness and treatment practices and due referral to health centers, drug rehabilitation conditions, consultation and psychology, personal and environmental sanitation, the quantity and quality of sanitary, medical, pharmaceutical and food equipment and devices existing in the center considering all stages of purchase, procurement, storage, cooking, consumption and disposal. (Articles 151 and 156 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

12- Detainees who belong to religious minority groups recognized by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Constitution can have one single volume of their holy book when they are admitted to the prison (Article 87 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

13- To control and prevent the spread of contagious diseases and hygiene infections (by insects and stinging animals) the infirmary unit of the center should train the prisoners and supervise their compliance with rules on hygiene and sanitation of the environment and to use, and if necessary, order pesticide spraying as a complementary method while considering the opinion of experts in the infirmary as well as the hygiene rules. Removing infection from surfaces and equipment in infirmaries, operating theaters, dormitories, kitchens, barber units, toilets and instruments used in them should be carried out regularly and be based on hygiene directives and guidelines. (Articles 121 and 122 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

14- Vaccination of detainees and staff at the center, especially staff with direct access to inmates, should be carried out continuously and be regarded as a priority of the health and treatment unit of the center (Article 123 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

15- Bed sheets belonging to inmates should be washed every 15 days and their blankets should be washed at least every three months (Article 142 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

16- Head of the detention center must prioritize children, teenagers, women, as well as financial, political, and journalism crimes suspects and old and ill suspects when it comes to assigning welfare amenities to inmates including library, carpet, TV sets, fridge, air conditioning devices, sport equipment, fruit and vegetables. (article 157 of the PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

17- Observing the following issues is mandatory when detainees are under custody:

a- Mothers can keep their breastfeeding babies in the center until the baby reaches the age of two. Extending that period until the age of six will be possible with consideration of related laws and regulations.

b- Considering the laws in section a, social workers are required to hand over the baby to the family and if rejected to the State Welfare Organization or other qualified institutions.

c- The center is required to procure the sanitary products needed by female prisoners as well as proper food for detained mothers and their babies.

d- Pregnant women, breastfeeding baby and mothers should enjoy special diets.

Sub-article- head of the center is supposed to prepare the ground for setting up a nursery in the detention center through cooperation with qualified organizations so that babies between two and six years of age who are subject to laws in section a can receive proper education when it is necessary and with the consent of the baby’s mother. (Article 158 of the PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

18- Head of the detention center is required to protect the rights of disabled prisoners through development, improvement and correction of the environment of the detention center and by procurement of the required equipment so that the prisoners can freely and without any feeling of danger move about in their surrounding environment and enjoy access to all amenities of the center like other inmates. The decisions adopted with regards to disabled people should be based on the principle of “the best interpretation of the will and preferences of the individual”. (Article 110 of the PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

D- With regards to visits by family and lawyer

1- Detainees should have access to amenities they need to meet once per week their spouse, children, parents, siblings and father-in-law and mother-in-law. If the suspect is banned from visits based on the order of the judicial authority, the head of the detention center must report the names of the suspects who have been banned from visits based on judicial authority’s order to the judicial authorities responsible for the case and, if necessary, to the prosecutor or head of the related judicial district. (Articles 21, 211 and 213 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

2- Private visits by family members including parents, spouse and children should be provided with considering religious and security precautions and by observing sanitary rules used to counter the spread of the coronavirus, and while the visits are granted there must be plans to prioritize the expansion of “electronic or video meetings”.

3- Meeting between lawyer and the detained suspect is granted after an official power of attorney document is supplied to the head of the detention center or the officer responsible for meetings and the meeting should be held in a special room which has been separated from the place dedicated to public visits. If the prisoner is banned from visits, any such meetings will be authorized upon an order by the judicial authority. The association of attorneys, lawyers and judicial experts and family counseling groups certified by the Iranian judiciary can set up and equip a special office in prison for meetings with their customers provided that they obtain the consent of the provincial director general of the PSCMO as well as the consent of the head of the detention center. (Articles 216 and 217 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

E- During temporary release

1- Using electronic tags is forbidden during temporary release from the detention center unless it is used for suspects or prisoners incarcerated for aggressive crimes or when it is needed based on the approval of both the head or deputy head of the detention center and commander of the security squad or head of the temporary release section. Such cases should be reported to the supervising judge of the prison at the end of each month (Article 251 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

2- Using electronic tag is forbidden for under-18 individuals. Other devices used to prevent escape or for protection of prisoners should be used in limited cases and if there is a need while taking into account the dignity of the prisoner so that he or she is not humiliated. (Article 295 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

3- Using handcuffs is forbidden during temporary release of prisoners under 18, including in cases where prisoners are sent to courts or to health and educational centers and when they are granted furlough under supervision unless there is a need to use handcuffs which should be decided by the related judicial authority.

4- During temporary releases, forcing women to wear chador or forcing political and journalism crime suspects and civil financial crime suspects and suspects under 18 to wear uniforms in forbidden (Article 73 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

F- Rights of suspects in segregated wards or in solitary confinement

1- In cases where detained suspects should be kept in segregated areas because they have committed crimes or because there are signs of a dangerous situation, upon a decision by the related judicial authority, the suspects are kept in solitary confinement or in cells with few other detainees for a 10-day period if it is a first time and then a 15-day period if the case has happened for a second time. The head of the detention center or the highest ranking officer in the center are allowed to segregate the inmates who have disrupted the discipline of the center for a period of 24 hours and report the issue to the related judicial authority. The suspects who have been segregated because of a dangerous condition or because of disrupting the disciplinary situation in the center or for harming other prisoners should be referred to the head of the infirmary or counseling unit of the center and a report on the issue should be submitted to the related judicial authority and the district prosecutor. It is required that the prisoner has access to daily meetings with a doctor or the head of the infirmary as well as to bath, books, counseling with a psychologist or a cleric certified by the center and to one hour per day of access to open space fresh air as he or she is segregated from the others (Articles 28 and 29 of PSCMO’S executive order).

2- Segregation or keeping in solitary confinement is forbidden for pregnant women and mothers accompanied by children while section c of article 6 of Law on Political Crime ratified in 2016 forbids detention or imprisonment under solitary confinement for political suspects unless the judicial authority fears there could be a collusion or deems such confinement as necessary for the completion of the investigations and, under any circumstances, such solitary confinement should not exceed 15 days (Article 42 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw and section c of article 6 of law on political crime ratified in 2016)

3- Physical conditions in segregation ward (so-called solitary confinement ward) must comply with following criteria:

-Solitary cells have to enjoy direct sunlight via a window as tall as 50-70 centimeters

-Solitary cells must be equipped with an open-roof toilet with a short wall and without door which can only accommodate one person and no more; in a cell intended for several people the area of the room must necessarily match the number of individuals and the toilet must have a roof and equipped with a door and a vent.

-The cell must be equipped with a vent and its temperature must match the seasonal temperature by taking into account the technical and safety rules

-The bath must have a shower with plastic piping and joints and connected to hot and cold water supply

-It must enjoy enough light and lamp to enable the prisoner to read books and distinguish between day and night in a normal way like in other wards

-It should have proper walls tiled with construction stones and should have a clear and clean color

-In all solitary cells the place where the inmate sits or sleeps must be 20-30 centimeters above the floor of the cell so that sanitary rules can be complied with

-Every prisoner is entitled to two proper and clean blankets and plastic tableware upon arrival in the cell

-Bed bases made of wood or MDF are forbidden and only metals beds that are fixed in place are allowed in the cells

-The cell should be adjacent to an open place to allow the inmate to go for fresh air in periods not less than one hour every day

-Developers must consider all security precautions and other necessary measures for preventing brawl, self-harm and suicide in all phases of construction, renovation and equipping the cells intended for solitary confinement

4- Prisoners who have embarked on any form of strikes should immediately be segregated from other prisoners upon an order from the prison chief while the issue is reported to the related judicial authority and the infirmary of the prison as the prisoner is put under supervision based on the guidelines of the department of health of the PSCMO for the purpose of examining and protecting the physical and mental safety of the prisoner and to carry out required medical and psychiatric actions. (Article 145 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

G- Rights to confidential and quick disclosure of information to supervisory authorities

1- Authorities of the prison must set up electronic offices for legal services and also information and electronic services stations for prisoners inside the prisons so that the suspects are enabled to register on SANA website and see their legal proceedings condition (including information on their case and subpoenas) and to register applications, complaints, legal bills to judicial authorities and also to register and follow up on various applications related to the rights of the suspect and welfare and paroles issues related to incarceration. (Articles 114 and 315 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

2- Judicial affairs and inspection units in the prison should use various methods including electronic cubicles, phone calls and provision of recommendations to the family of the suspects to use MASHAL system to continuously collect and process written and oral complaints by the detainees and their families and report the results to relevant authorities. Oral complaints are mentioned in reports compiled from face-to-face meetings. (Articles 114 an d 315 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

H- Supervision on detention centers

1- All rooms, corridors and public spaces in detention centers must be equipped with CCTV cameras that are capable of recording voice and video and there must not be any place in the prisons where the cameras cannot access and head of the center and officer in charge of security and intelligence must report the quality and quantity of the surveillance by the cameras to the director general of the provincial prisons department and offices for security and inspection (article 67 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw)

2- Prison chiefs are required to carry out actions that are needed to set up network communication between the SAJAZA system and the provincial prisons department in order to guarantee the rights of the detained suspects on the latest laws and regulations on issues like the place and conditions of custody, hygiene, security, correct and timely execution of judicial orders, access to legal services and access to parole authorities for each and every prisoner and detainee. (Sub-article 2 of article 112 of PSCMO’S executive bylaw and article 10 of bylaw on police detention centers and article 6 of bylaw on security detention centers)

3- The office for protection of the rights of prisoners, in collaboration with judicial deputy and deputy for execution of verdicts, should prepare a checklist covering the rights of prisoners and detainees and hand it over to inspectors.

4- A sign or pamphlets entitled “the charter on rights of prisoners” that includes the aforementioned issues and rules should be publicly available at all wards in all prisons and if it’s a sign, it should be visible to all prisoners.

5- According to sub-article 2 of article 3 of PSCMO’s executive bylaw, inspection boards (comprising of deputy directors of PSCMO, directors of PSCMO’S departments and directors of provincial prison departments and provincial heads of inspection units) must tour all parts of the public, security, military and police detention centers at least once every three months and during nights and report their final findings to the director general of PSCMO and the office for protection of the rights of the prisoners (which is based in the office for deputy for safety). Head of the PSCMO’s department for performance evaluation, inspection and answering complaints is responsible to monitor and supervise the proper execution of this bylaw.

Gholamali Mohammadi

Director of Prisons and Security and Corrective Measures Organization (PSCMO)

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