Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, June 24, 2006

European Court of Human Rights Spars Woman from Lashing Ordered by Iranian Authorities

The European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled on Thursday that repatriating a woman from Turkey to Iran, where she is sentenced to receive 100 lashes, would violate her human rights and would constitute "inhuman treatment". The case involved three Iranian nationals: A.D., a man of Kurdish origin, his wife, P.S., of Azeri origin, and their daughter. All three are currently living in Turkey, where they had been granted a temporary residence permit.

A.D. and P.S. met in 1996 and decided to marry. However, the father and brother of P.S., both members of the Iranian intelligence service, strongly objected to the proposed marriage. Despite these objections, they married in September, at a Sunni ceremony, without the consent of the bride’s father, and therefore in breach of Shia sharia law.

Two days after the wedding the couple were arrested. At the request of the Shia religious authorities, P.S. was forced to undergo a virginity test and then released. On September 30 a judge of the Naghadeh islamic court declared the marriage null and void and fined each of the first two applicants 300,000 rials. At the hearing the judge also persuaded the father of P.S. to agree to a Shia wedding and they were remarried.  However, the couple were subsequently informed that they had each been sentenced to 100 lashes for fornication, under Article 88 of the Criminal Code, the sentence falling into the category known as haad, meaning that it is irrevocable.

In April 1997 the husband was subjected to this punishment. However, as his wife was then pregnant, execution of her sentence was postponed, in the first instance until the birth of her daughter and then until October 1999, because of her fragile physical and mental health. On the latter date it was nevertheless decided that there would be no further stays of execution and that the sentence of 100 lashes would be carried out in two sessions of 50 lashes each. The couple fled from Iran to Turkey and sought temporary status of “asylum seekers” in that country.  In 2003 Turkey informed them that it had rejected their applications for asylum seeker status and were free to return to Iran or make their way to a third country of their choice, failing which they ran the risk of deportation. The European Court of Human Rights held that allowing any of the parties to be deported to Iran would violate Article 3 of the Convention. For additional information regarding this case, please click here (last visited June 24, 2006, reo).

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