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Iran Urged To Abolish 'Abhorrent' Amputations After Thief Has Hand Cut Off

A blindfolded, convicted thief is shown at his public hand amputation in Shiraz in January 2013.

Amnesty International has urged Iran to reform its Penal Code and abolish all forms of corporal punishment, including the "abhorrent" practice of amputation.

The London-based human rights watchdog made the call in a statement on October 24, a day after the Iranian authorities announced they had amputated the hand of a man imprisoned for theft.

"By carrying out this unspeakably cruel punishment, the Iranian authorities have committed torture which is a crime under international law," Amnesty International's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, Saleh Higazi, said, adding that Iran must immediately move "toward a criminal justice system that treats prisoners humanely and focuses on rehabilitation."

On October 23, the justice department of the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran announced that a man jailed for multiple robberies had had his hand cut off in a prison in the provincial capital, Sari.

The "professional thief" had confessed to 28 counts of theft, the statement said, adding that the amputation of the man's hand was part of "the justice department's policy to crack down, severely and without hesitation, on those who disrupt public order and security and steal public funds."

The judiciary did not identify the inmate or say how much time he was serving.

"Premeditated maiming and mutilation of individuals is not justice, Higazi said, calling these practices an "abhorrent form of torture."

In the past, Iran has imposed multiple Koranic punishments that are described by human rights activists as "cruel" and "inhuman," including stonings, blindings, floggings, and amputations.

However, cutting off the hands of thieves has been rare in recent years.

In January 2018, Iranian media reported that a 34-year-old man had one of his hands chopped off publicly as punishment for stealing livestock in the northeastern province of Razavi Khorasan.

With reporting by AFP
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