Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, alternative care settings, some day care, schools and as a sentence for crime.
The legal defences for the use of corporal punishment by parents/guardians in article 1179 of the Civil Code 1935, article 158 of the Islamic Penal Code 2013 and article 7 of the Child Protection Law 2002 should be repealed and prohibition enacted of all corporal punishment in childrearing, however light.
Alternative care settings – Prohibition should be enacted in legislation applicable to all alternative care settings (foster care, institutions, places of safety, emergency care, etc), including through repeal of the legal defences for its use in the Civil Code 1935, the Islamic Penal Code 2013 and the Child Protection Law 2002.
Day care – Corporal punishment is unlawful in kindergartens. Legislation should now be enacted to prohibit it in all forms of early childhood care (nurseries, crèches, family centres, etc) and all day care for older children (day centres, after-school childcare, childminding, etc), including through explicit repeal of the legal defences for its use in the Civil Code 1936, Islamic Penal Code 2013 and Child Protection Law 2002.
Schools – The clear policy against corporal punishment in the Schools Executive Directive should be confirmed through law reform which clearly prohibits corporal punishment in all education settings, public and private, at all levels.
Sentence for crime – All provisions authorising corporal punishment as a sentence for offences committed by persons under 18, including for minors under the age of criminal responsibility, should be repealed – including in the Islamic Penal Code 1991, the Directive on Implementation Regulations for Sentences of Retribution-in-Kind, Stoning, Murder, Crucifixion, Death Penalty, and Flogging 2003 and the Penal Code 2013 – and all judicial corporal punishment prohibited.
Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Article 1179 of the Civil Code 1935 (amended 1991) states: “Parents are entitled to punish their children but they must not abuse this right by punishing their children beyond the limits of correction.” The Islamic Penal Code 1991 as amended up to 2012 explicitly provided for the right of parents to impose corporal punishment, stating in article 49: “Children, in case of committing an offence, are exempt from criminal liability; and their correction is the responsibility of their guardians or, if appropriate, the Juvenile Correction and Rehabilitation Center. Note 1: A child is a person who has not reached the age of puberty as stipulated in Islamic Shari’a. Note 2: If, in order to correct child offenders, corporal chastisement is deemed necessary, it must be moderate and expedient.” Article 59 stated: “The following acts shall not be considered an offence: (1) The acts committed by parents and legal guardians of minors and insane people in order to chastise or protect them provided that chastisement and protection are exercised within the customary limit….” This provision appears to be reiterated in the Islamic Penal Code 2013, with article 158 stating that it is not an offence when parents or legal guardian discipline their children “provided that the disciplinary measures are within the bounds of religion and custom” (unofficial translation). Articles 88 to 95 reportedly concern children’s rights, but we have yet to see the text of these articles.
The Act on Protection of Children and Adolescents 2002 prohibits “all kinds of abuse leading to physical, mental or moral damage to the child endangering their physical or mental health” (art. 2), but states that “actions under the framework of article 59 of Islamic Punishment Laws ratified on 07/09/1370 (1991) and article 1179 of civil law ratified on 19/01/1314 (1935) are excluded from this law” (art. 7).
As at March 2013, a Bill to amend the Act on Protection of Children and Adolescents had been approved and submitted to Parliament. According to the Government’s 2013 report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, this Bill broadens the concepts of torture and inhuman treatment of children to include continuous bullying of them and further protects children by punishing “excessive misinterpretation” of the Civil and Penal Code articles allowing “reasonable punishment or punishment for correction or protection purposes”. In August 2014, the Children and Adolescent Protection Bill was still under discussion in Parliament, and bills on Juvenile Justice and Child Protection had also been drafted. The Government reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2015 that the Bill on Protection of Children and Adolescents was under consideration in Parliament, in its “final stages of adoption”.
In reporting to the Universal Periodic Review of Iran in 2014, the Government stated that the Law on the Protection of the Rights of the Family had been approved and enacted. We have not seen the text of the Act, but a Family Protection Bill under discussion in 2011 did not include protection for children from all corporal punishment. In 2015, a bill to protect women from all forms of violence was being finalised.
A Draft Charter of Citizens’ Rights is under discussion, and in 2014 was released for public consultation (2014). As at November 2013, article 3-106 stated: “It is a natural right for children to have competent parents and guardians. Parents and guardians of a child are obligated to carry out the guardianship and maintenance duties for the child, aiming to realize the child’s best interest and they are held accountable for any physical, psychological and mental violence and abuse, carelessness and negligence, abuse and failure to perform their legal and humane responsibilities related to the child.” However, the draft did not confirm children rights to protection from all forms of corporal punishment.
Alternative care settings
Corporal punishment is lawful in alternative care settings under provisions for “correction” of children in the Civil Code 1935 (art. 1179), the Islamic Penal Code 2013 (art. 158) and the Child Protection Law 2002 (art. 7) (see under “Home”). The Law on Protection of Children and Adolescents with no Guardian (the adoption law) was adopted in October 2013. We have yet to see the full text but according to Government reports it prohibits abuse of children which causes harm or endangers their health: there are no indications that it prohibits all corporal punishment.
Corporal punishment is prohibited in day care centres (kindergartens) in article 8(23) of the Amended Regulations for Establishment, Management and Dissolution of All Forms of Day Care Centres 2008, which in the context of rules and regulations refers to the “absence of any kind of humiliation and any kind of punishment and corporal punishment of children”. Article 7 sets out the conditions and responsibilities of staff in the centres and refers to the “absence of any kind of corporal punishment which causes physical and emotional harm to the child” (art. 7(11)) and to the “absence of any kind of punishment and threatening in cases such as ineffectiveness of education, toilet and hygiene, and also incompatibility of the child and the day care centre’s programme such as nutrition and rest” (art. 7(12)).
Corporal punishment is lawful in other early childhood care and in day care for older children under provisions for “correction” of children in the Civil Code 1935 (art. 1179), the Islamic Penal Code 2013 (art. 158) and the Child Protection Law 2002 (art. 7) (see under “Home”).
A Government Directive advises against the use of corporal punishment in schools but there appears to be no explicit prohibition in legislation. The Schools Executive Directive ratified by the Higher Council of Education on 10 August 2000 states that “disciplining students must be conducted in a manner that students realize how they have been at fault and encourage them for demonstration of positive behaviour” (art. 75). Article 76 of the Directive sets out disciplinary measures which may be taken, and these do not include corporal punishment. Article 77 states: “Any other type of disciplining including verbal abuse, corporal punishment, and assigning classwork/homework as a measure for disciplining is prohibited and to be avoided.”
The Students Parliament established by the Ministry of Education developed and ratified a Charter on the Rights of Students which states that “students have lofty human dignity and must be treated with respect” (art. 1) and that “students must be protected from any and all physical and mental abuse and harassment and all treatment that is socially damaging and defamatory in nature” (art. 2). We have yet to ascertain the legal force of the Charter.
Corporal punishment is prohibited in juvenile correction centres. Article 169 of the Executive Regulations of the Prisons Organisation, Correction and Security Measures 2005 states: “Aggressive behaviour, verbal abuse of the accused and convicts or administering harsh and insulting disciplinary measures are forbidden in any manner in institutions and prisons.”
Sentence for crime
Corporal punishment is lawful as a sentence for crime. Article 49 of the Islamic Penal Code 1991 as amended to 2012 stated that if a minor commits a crime, the parent/guardian is responsible for his/her “correction”, including “corporal chastisement” which “must be moderate and expedient”. A minor is defined as a person who has not reached puberty as stipulated under Islamic Shari’a (art. 49, note 1); according to article 1210 of the Civil Code 1935, this is age 15 for boys and 9 for girls. Children who have reached puberty will be punished under the Penal Code, which includes provision for corporal punishment – lashings and amputation – crimes relating to sex, false accusation, alcohol and bodily injury.
The Islamic Penal Code as amended to 2012 specified how the lashing is to be administered for adultery – for a male, on the bare body, “severely, other than his head and face and private parts” while standing, for a female whilst sitting “and her clothes are tied to her body” (art. 100). Not less than three “pious people” must be present (art. 101). Lashing may be postponed for a pregnant or breast-feeding woman, and for a sick person or an excessively menstruating woman (arts. 92 and 93). A person may be sentenced to both lashing and death, in which case she or he is lashed before being stoned to death (art. 98). In the case of false accusation, lashing should be struck “moderately on the customary clothes” and not on the face, head or private parts (arts. 155 and 156); a further 74 lashes is given if the accusation is repeated (art. 158). For alcohol related convictions, a male is lashed while naked and standing, except on the face, hands and private parts, a female while sitting and clothed (art. 176). Further details about how flogging should be implemented are specified in the Directive on Implementation Regulations for Sentences of Retribution-in-Kind, Stoning, Murder, Crucifixion, Death Penalty, and Flogging 2003 (arts. 27 to 35).
Other forms of corporal punishment are ordered under the Penal Code provisions for retaliation for injury (arts. 272 to 291): in retaliating for injury to limb, the limbs must be equally healthy, not artificial, the injury or point of loss must be equal, retaliation should not result in death or the loss of a different limb, and retaliation must not exceed the crime; if the convicted person has no right hand, the left hand will be cut off, if no left hand then the leg will be amputated; similar retribution is provided for with regard to the eye, ear, nose, tongue, lips and teeth. Theft is punished by amputation of the four fingers on the right hand for the first offence and half of the left foot on the second offence (arts. 201 and 202).
Ta’zir corporal punishments (lashing) are ordered for insulting, swearing or using profane language, insulting state employees, crimes against public morality by an unmarried man or woman, excluding adultery, publicly violating a religious taboo, publishing or being in receipt of media which violates public morals, libel, and publishing false information (arts. 608, 609, 637, 638, 640, 697 and 698). The Code defines Ta’zir as “the chastisement or punishment which its type and amount is not determined by Shari’a but left to discretion of the judge, such as imprisonment, fine and lashes; the number of lashes must be less than the number stipulated for had punishment” (art. 16).
Our preliminary analysis of the new Penal Code 2013 suggests that while there have been some limitations on punishment of children, persons under 18 remain liable to corporal punishment for some crimes. Under the new Code, children below the age of puberty are not criminally responsible. As in the Civil Code 1935 (art. 1210), the Penal Code defines puberty as age 9 for girls and 15 for boys (art. 147). Children below the age of puberty are subject to measures of [?security] and education (art. 148). Articles 88 to 95 of the new Code set out the measures applicable to older children and adolescents. Children below the age of 15 convicted of a crime, including had or retribution crimes, may be subjected to a number of measures, including strict supervision by parents or legal guardians; corporal punishment is not among the measures listed (art. 88). The list of measures applicable to children aged between 15 and 18 does not include corporal punishment (art. 89). Article 91 addresses the conviction of persons under 18 of had or qisas crimes but we have yet to obtain a meaningful translation of this provision (traditionally, these crimes attract corporal punishment). It appears from other articles in the Code (e.g. articles 233ff, 244ff) that punishments stipulated for had crimes, including lashing, stoning and amputation, may be imposed from the age of 15 (unconfirmed). Under examination by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2016, the Government appears to have confirmed that the 2013 Penal Code abolishes corporal punishment and flogging of children under 18 for taz’ir crimes but that children may still be subjected to corporal punishment for crimes of Hudud and Qisas: we are seeking further information.
In 2013, the Government reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that the Head of the Judiciary has issued a “circular to prohibit applying qisas (death or corporal punishment for the crime of murder) on children and adolescents”. As at March 2013, a draft Bill on Prosecution of Crimes Committed by Children which states that irrespective of their sex, children up to 9 years old are exempt from criminal liability, children aged 9-12 may be subject to training-corrective measures, children aged 12-15 may be subject to training-punishment measures and children aged 15-18 might be subject to minimized punishments. It appears that these reforms might limit but would not prohibit all corporal punishment of children.
Universal Periodic Review of Iran’s human rights record
Iran was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2010 (session 7). The Government rejected the recommendation to end cruel punishments, stating that “the term of ‘cruel punishment’ is applicable to none of the punishments stipulated in the laws of the country”.
Examination in the second cycle took place in 2014 (session 20). The following recommendations were made:
“Amend the Islamic Penal Code and outlaw inhuman corporal punishments (Czech Republic);
“Explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment in children (Israel);
“Revoke all laws that allow corporal punishment in children (Israel)”
The Government rejected the recommendations.
Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations
Session 071 (2016)
(29 January 2016, CRC/C/IRN/CO/3-4 Advance Unedited Version, Concluding observations on third/fourth report, paras. 31, 47, 53, 54, 55 and 56)
“The Committee is also concerned ... that the same sex sexual behaviour of adolescents above the actual age of criminal responsibility is criminalized and punished with penalties ranging from flogging to death penalty.
“The Committee is concerned at the reports that content-based offenses such as ‘propaganda against the state’ or ‘insulting Islam’ are not clearly defined and interpreted and can incur prison terms, flogging, and even death sentences, thus limiting the right of children to freedom of expression....
“While welcoming the 2013 Islamic Penal Code abolishing corporal punishment and flogging of children under the age of 18 years for the crimes under the ta’zir category, the Committee remains seriously concerned that this Code retains the punishment of children who reached the legal age of criminal responsibility (9 lunar years for girls and 15 years for boys) for crimes under the categories of Hudud and Qisas with sentences involving torture or cruel, degrading treatment or punishment, which has been and continue to be applied to children. While recognizing the decree of the Supreme Leader not to have children witnessing public executions, the Committee is concerned about the negative impact of still ongoing public executions witnessed by children on their mental health and well-being. Furthermore, it is concerned at the reports that LGBTI children are subjected to electroshocks, hormones and strong psychoactive medications for the purpose of ‘curing’ them.
“In light of its general comment No. 13 (2011) on the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence and taking note of Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children, the Committee strongly urges the State party to immediately repeal all provisions which authorize or condone cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of children. It also recommends that the State party put an end to public executions that have irreversible negative effect on the mental health of witnessing children by implementing the above mentioned decree. Furthermore, the Committee urges the State party to ensure that LGBTI children are not subjected to cruel and degrading treatment such as electroshocks, hormones and strong psychoactive medications and that those responsible for these acts be held accountable.
“The Committee is seriously concerned that articles 1173 and 1179 of the Civil Code allow for ‘reasonable punishment of children for correction or protection purposes’ and that article 158 (d) of the Islamic Penal Code of 2013 provide for disciplining children by parents or guardians ‘within normal and shariah-sanctioned boundaries’. Furthermore, it is concerned that corporal punishment is not prohibited in schools.
“In the light of its General Comment No. 8 (2006) on corporal punishment, the Committee urges the State party to review its legislation with a view to prohibiting all forms of corporal punishment irrespective of its purpose, including by parents, guardians and teachers, and instead promote positive, non-violent and participatory forms of child-rearing and discipline.”Read more from Session 071 (2016)
Session 038 (2005)
(31 March 2005, CRC/C/15/Add.254, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 45, 46, 47, 48, 72 and 73)
"The Committee deeply regrets that under the existing laws, persons below the age of 18 who have committed a crime can be subjected to corporal punishment and sentenced to various types of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, such as amputation, flogging or stoning, which are systematically imposed by judicial authorities and which the Committee considers to be totally incompatible with article 37 (a) and other provisions of the Convention.
"In the light of the consideration of the Bill on the Establishment of Juvenile Courts, the Committee urges the State party to take all the necessary measures to ensure that persons who committed crimes while under 18 are not subjected to any form of corporal punishment and to immediately suspend the imposition and the execution of sentences of amputation, flogging, stoning and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
"The Committee continues to be concerned about legislation that provides for corporal punishment within the family. While welcoming the new Law on the Protection of Children and Adolescents (2003), which includes the prohibition of all forms of molestation and abuse of children and the obligation to report cases of child abuse, the exceptions stated therein continue to legally allow various forms of violence against children. More particularly, several articles of the Civil and Penal Code [sic], have been excluded, including article 1179 of the Civil Law and article 59 of the Penal Code which gives parents the right to physically discipline their children within non-defined “normal limits”. In the Committee’s view, such exceptions contribute to the abuse of children inside and outside the family and contravene the principles and provisions of the Convention, in particular article 19. The Committee also notes with concern, that certain forms of sexual abuse of children or grandchildren are not explicitly prohibited.
"The Committee recommends that the State party:
a) continue and strengthen its efforts, including through legislative and other measures, to prohibit and prevent all forms of physical and mental violence against children, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse, in the family, in schools, and in other institutions, and take the necessary legislative measures to ensure that all those who sexually abuse children are punished without discrimination;
b) initiate public education campaigns against the use of all forms of violence against children and encourage alternative forms of discipline….
"The Committee welcomes the efforts of the State party to improve the laws with regard to persons below 18 in conflict with the law…. However, it deplores the information referred to in paragraph 29 above that, despite the statement of the delegation during the consideration of the current report that, in view of the Bill on the Establishment of Juvenile Courts, executions, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons for having committed crimes before the age of 18 have been suspended, such executions and ill-treatment have continued since the consideration by the Committee of the State party’s initial report. The Committee remains concerned at the existing poor quality of the rules and practices in the juvenile justice system, reflected, inter alia, in the lack of statistical data, the limited use of specialized juvenile courts and judges, the low age of criminal responsibility, the lack of adequate alternatives to custodial sentences, and the imposition of torture and other cruel and inhuman punishment and in particular of the death penalty.
"The Committee repeats its recommendation contained in paragraph 9 above that the State party take, as a matter of the highest priority, the necessary measures for the approval and implementation of the Bill on the Establishment of Juvenile Courts and ensure that it complies with the provisions of the Convention, in particular articles 37, 39 and 40, as well as with other relevant international standards in this area…. In this respect the Committee urges the State party, in particular: ...
b) to suspend immediately the imposition and execution of all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, such as amputation, flogging or stoning, for crimes committed by persons under 18…."Read more from Session 038 (2005)
Session 024 (2000)
(28 June 2000, CRC/C/15/Add.123, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 37, 38, 39 and 40)
"In light of article 37 (a) of the Convention, the Committee is seriously concerned that persons who committed crimes while under 18 can be subjected to corporal punishment under Note 2 of article 49 of the Islamic Penal Law, or can be subjected to a variety of types of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment such as amputation, flogging and stoning, which are systematically imposed by judicial authorities. Concurring with the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/79/Add.25), the Committee finds that application of such measures is incompatible with the Convention.
"The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary steps to end the imposition of corporal punishment under Note 2 of article 49 of the Islamic Penal Law and the imposition of amputation, flogging, stoning and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment to persons who may have committed crimes while under 18.
"In light of articles 19 and 39 of the Convention, the Committee is concerned that legislation provides for corporal punishment within the family, under Note 2 of article 49 and article 59 of the Islamic Penal Law and article 1179 of the Civil Code.
"The Committee recommends that the State party take legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence against children, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse, in the family and in the schools. The Committee recommends that these measures be accompanied by public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment of children. The Committee recommends that the State party promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment, especially in the home and the schools…."Read more from Session 024 (2000)
Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations
HRC session 103 (2011)
(29 November 2011, CCPR/C/IRN/CO/3, Concluding observations on third report, para. 16)
"The Committee is concerned about the continued imposition of corporal punishment by judicial and administrative authorities, in particular amputations and flogging for a range of crimes, including theft, enmity against God (mohareb) and certain sexual acts. It is also concerned that corporal punishment of children is lawful in the home, as a sentence of the courts and in alternative care settings (art. 7).
The State party should amend the Penal Code to abolish the imposition of corporal punishment by judicial and administrative authorities. The State party should also explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment in child-rearing and education, including by repealing the legal defences for its use in article 1179 of the Civil Code, articles 49 and 59 of the Penal Code and article 7 of the Law on the Protection of Children."Read more from HRC session 103 (2011)
HRC session 048 (1993)
(3 August 1993, CCPR/C/79/Add.25, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 5, 11 and 19)
"The Committee notes with interest the establishment of a Human Rights Office within the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the measures under consideration in the Islamic Republic of Iran to improve the status of women and the promise to reconsider the question of corporal punishments….
"… [T]he Committee considers that the application of measures of punishment of extreme severity, such as flogging, lapidation and amputation, is not compatible with the provisions of article 7 of the Covenant….
"Effective measures should be adopted to ensure the strictest observance of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant. All complaints of extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and ill-treatment should be duly investigated, the culprits should be punished and measures should be taken to prevent any recurrence of such acts. Severe forms of punishment incompatible with the Covenant should be removed from law and practice and the conditions of detention of persons deprived of their liberty should be improved…."Read more from HRC session 048 (1993)
Prevalence/attitudinal research for Iran in the last 10 years
According to UNICEF statistics collected between 2005 and 2012, 79% of children aged 2-14 experienced violent “discipline” (physical punishment and/or psychological aggression) in the home in the month prior to the survey: 81% of boys and 77% of girls.
(UNICEF (2014), The State of the World’s Children 2014 in Numbers: Every Child Counts, NY: UNICEF)
 4 August 2014, A/HRC/WG.6/20/IRN/1, National report to the UPR, para. 88
 Report to CRC, Advance Unedited Version, page
 Report to CRC, Advance Unedited Version, page 25
 4 August 2014, A/HRC/WG.6/20/IRN/1, National report to the UPR, para. 92ff
 13 November 2015, CRC/C/IRN/Q/3-4/Add.1, Reply to list of issues, paras. 15 and 86
 4 August 2014, A/HRC/WG.6/20/IRN/1, National report to the UPR, para. 88; see also opening statement to the UPR
 13 November 2015, CRC/C/IRN/Q/3-4/Add.1, Reply to list of issues, para. 38
 8 July, CRPD/C/IRN/1, Initial state party report, para. 80
 See also 13 November 2015, CRC/C/IRN/Q/3-4/Add.1, Reply to list of issues, para. 82
 29 January 2016, CRC/C/IRN/CO/3-4 Advance Unedited Version, Concluding observations on third/fourth report, para. 53
 [March 2013], Advance Unedited Version, Third state party report, page 91
 Report to CRC, Advance Unedited Version, Third state party report, page 80
 3 June 2010, A/HRC/14/12/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, para. 19
 4 November 2014, A/HRC/WG.6/20/L.9 Unedited Version, Draft report of the working group, paras. 138(201), 138(202) and 138(203)
 2 March 2015, A/HRC/28/12/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, para. 6