Justice for Iran, 24 February 2019: the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, has raised concerns over the use and broadcast of forced confessions alongside the statements of repentance by political prisoners on State-run television channels and other media outlets.

“The confessions shown on State-funded media outlets are often made under torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or under duress.”, said Professor Javaid Rehman in his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council.

The report highlights the case of Ahmadreza Djalali as an example of the use of such confessions as the basis for convictions and the imposition of harsh sentences, including the death penalty. The report states that “Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian academic, had his confession to spying on the Islamic Republic of Iran broadcast on State television in December 2017, five days after the Supreme Court had upheld his death sentence through a hastily convened and secret process, during which no submissions from the defence had been allowed.”

Justice for Iran has previously presented the UN human rights mechanisms with evidence of the regular broadcast of forced confessions as a state policy to both provide evidence against political prisoners, and spread an atmosphere of fear and stigmatisation regarding civil and political activism among the entire population.

The UN Special Rapporteur also highlighted the fact that members of ethnic groups are more likely to be targeted by the practice of extracting and broadcasting forced confessions. The plight of ethnic activists, whose forced confessions had been broadcast by the state-run media outlets, were documented in Justice for Iran’s ‘Seeking Rights to Cultural Identity; The Deathly Struggle of Ahwazi Arab Activists’ and ‘Cut” Take Press TV Off the Air’ research reports.

Broadcasting forced confessions, stealing private data, and publishing defamatory content are systematic practice only by the governments of Iran, China, North Korea and Vietnam. Justice for Iran has recorded at least 355 individuals who have been forced to confess -often to fabricated and false allegations- on state TV between 2009 and 2019, in its forthcoming research report.