IRCT Calls for Full Investigation of Escalating Human Rights Crisis

The IRCT is deeply concerned with the escalating human rights crisis in Iran where credible reports indicate that protesters are indiscriminately beaten, arbitrarily arrested, systematically tortured, and killed in detention by Iranian security forces, while some are charged with offences carrying the death penalty.[1] The IRCT has also received credible reports that the crackdown on the Kurdish minority is particularly harsh and escalating.

For decades, IRCT members have been supporting Iranian refugees who experienced brutal torture by authorities in Iran to rebuild their lives. We know from their harrowing stories that the crime of torture is nothing new, but rather has long been a central tool for the regime’s oppression of any dissent. However, the current situation is unprecedented in recent history in the scale of violations and the level of violence used against anyone exercising their human right to protest against the government. The IRCT therefore calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately cease its violations of the internationally recognised absolute prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment, and to allow independent monitors to investigate events.

Today, the UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the escalating human rights crisis in Iran. The IRCT calls on the Human Rights Council to urgently establish a fact-finding mission to investigate and document all human rights violations related to the current protests with a specific focus on establishing the harm and damage created to individual victims, their families and communities.

As the global leader in torture documentation and rehabilitation, the IRCT’s 163 member centres and associated networks of forensic experts and researchers have for decades evidenced the widespread and highly negative society-wide impacts of torture, and the subsequent need for reparations programmes and transitional justice processes to be as full and inclusive as possible.

“Mass torture creates open wounds in society that do not heal by themselves,” said Asger Kjaerum, Advocacy Director of IRCT. “If and when Iran gets a government that is willing to protect and promote the human rights of its people, it will be necessary to have comprehensive information on the impact of torture and other human rights violations on victims, families and communities because that is what will allow for the establishment of an effective reparations programme that can help the country to heal.”

Iran has denied access to successive UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights, claiming the process is political and unnecessary. In the absence of physical access to Iran for international experts, the ability to document allegations of torture remotely will be increasingly important. The IRCT and our global network of torture rehabilitation centres stand ready to support this work with our world leading expertise in documentation of torture.

For enquiries contact Hugh Macleod, IRCT Communications on HML@IRCT.ORG

[1] See for example and and


Nazanin Released After Influential IFEG Report

Dual national British-Iranian development worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 2016 on a visit to her parents. She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, apparently due to her role as a project manager for Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters. Nazanin and the Foundation consistently denied the charge.

Nazanin spent the majority of her sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where rights groups including Amnesty have documented systematic torture, including beatings, sexual assault, and deliberate neglect and ill-treatment of inmates in need of medical care.

Following a request from Redress, a UK-based NGO pursuing legal claims for survivors of torture, in October 2020 two members of the IRCT’s Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) conducted a two-day online examination of Nazanin to determine her physical and psychological condition.

The two experts, Professor Dr Michele Heisler of the University of Michigan and Dr Lilla Hardi, Medical Director of IRCT member the Cordelia Foundation in Hungary, concluded Nazanin’s condition was “highly consistent” with her allegations of torture and ill-treatment during her imprisonment.

Credit: Shutterstock

“Nazanin suffers from serious and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder due to her treatment in prison and under house arrest, and the continuing legal uncertainty and separation from her family.”


In March 2021, Redress delivered the full 77-page medico-legal report to the UK’s then foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who had previously referred to Nazanin’s experience in Iranian prison as an “ordeal”. By May 2021 Raab was referring to Nazanin’s treatment as torture.

IFEG’s conclusions were also extensively reported in leading UK media, including The Times, the BBC, the Independent , and The Week, and informed an editorial in The Times, widely seen as the British establishment newspaper of record, calling for British government to redouble efforts to secure Nazanin’s release. Nazanin was released in March 2022 after the UK announced it had settled a EUR477m debt owed to Iran relating to an order for tanks that Iran paid for but which the UK never delivered following the coming to power of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran’s 1979 revolution.

“While geopolitics between the UK and Iran was clearly the determining factor in Nazanin’s release, we can say with confidence that the role of IRCT’s experts in substantiating the evidence of Nazanin’s torture was highly influential in pressuring the UK government to take action. Nazanin’s release demonstrates the value of documenting torture using the Istanbul Protocol, because by using the internationally agreed standards the IRCT and its partners can ensure that States are not able to dismiss torture as merely an allegation, but are instead confronted with evidence of torture assessed by experts.”

James Lin, IRCT’s Istanbul Protocol Coordinator


IRCT’s President Lela Tsiskarishvili, Executive Director of the Georgian Centre for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT) discuss Nazanin’s case live on the UK’s GB News.

More information

From Torture Journal

Torture without physical pain: Inside cell 24 of the special wing for political prisoners-Evin prison (Iran)

Solitary confinement, Section 350, Evin prison in Tehran