In a joint statement on Wednesday, Justice for Iran (JFI) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) called on Iran to stop using so-called "confessions" and airing them on the state-run television against dissidents.
Iranian security forces often use intimidation, ill-treatment and torture to force individuals to appear on television and speak against themselves and others, "repent" and ask for the forgiveness of the Supreme Leader, sometimes even for imaginary crimes dictated to them by their interrogators.
In some cases after false, incriminating confessions extracted with promises of leniency, the same individuals have been sentenced to long prison terms or even executed.
JFI and FIDH have also released a 57-page report titled Orwellian State: The Islamic Republic of Iran’s State Media as a Weapon of Mass Suppression on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26. The report is based on in-depth interviews with some of the victims of forced confessions and defamatory content aired by the state-run media broadcast.
According to the report, between 2009 and 2019, at least 355 individuals were forced to appear on television to make so-called "confessions" that incriminated them and other individuals. The state-run television during the same period also aired defamatory content against at least 505 individuals.
“The use of forced confessions broadcast by state-owned media has been systematically used by Iranian authorities to repress dissent for decades. It’s time for the international community to press Iran to end this practice, which is the source of many grave human rights violations,” said FIDH Secretary-General Adilur Rahman Khan.
Victims have revealed that they were not only tortured and ill-treated to force them to confess – often to false statements – in front of cameras, but they also suffered long-lasting pain and mental health issues as a result of the confessions being aired.
"FIDH and JFI ask the international community to recognize that the broadcast of forced confessions, the theft of private data, and defamatory programs can constitute a form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," the joint statement says and urges world countries to adopt and implement legislation that provides for the prosecution under universal jurisdiction of these violations, and to support initiatives for the victims of IRIB propaganda campaigns to be able to take legal actions against the perpetrators and seek remedies.