Country Visit Report Working Group on Arbitrary Detention E/CN.4/2004/3/Add.2
para 65(5)
Full recommendation:
5. On imprisonment for debt. The Working Group has noted that destitute individuals, in
particular women without resources, are kept in prison for a period which can extend,
according to information gathered in situ, for up to five years for non-payment of a fine or
diyah. The Working Group recommends that the Government should accelerate the ongoing
reform of alternatives to imprisonment to avoid destitute individuals being subjected to
lengthy imprisonment in connection with their insolvency.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
A. The State Party should accelerate the ongoing reform of alternatives to
imprisonment to avoid destitute individuals being subjected to lengthy
imprisonment in connection with their insolvency
The Islamic Penal Code (2013) prescribes that a “court can sentence offenders of intentional
offenses whose punishment as prescribed by the law is from six months to one year’s
imprisonment, to substitute punishments”, provided that the accused individuals has not been
already convicted to a similar and/or harsher sentence in the past 5 years.2 However, such
provision does not protect destitute individuals being subjected to lengthy imprisonment in
connection with their insolvency.
Iranian law permits imprisonment of debtors under Article 3 of the 2015 Law on Enforcement
of Financial Judgments,3 which provides for imprisonment of individuals who are unable to
pay a debt. This provision states that when a creditor who has won a judgment against a
debtor cannot collect the debt owed to him or her, the debtor could be imprisoned upon the
request of the creditor. The debtor will be imprisoned until the debtor satisfies the debt,
proves that he or she is indigent, or persuades the creditor to withdraw his or her complaint.4
According to the head of Iran’s prison system, in 2018 more than 18,000 persons were held in
prison in Iran due to their failure to pay a fine or a contractual obligation.5 These individuals
include, for example, those who owe diya (diyeh) or blood money, and those who have
incurred debts in commercial transactions. Individuals imprisoned for failure to pay a debt
often spend prolonged periods in prison. Their release depends on charitable contributions
1

CCPR.9.3.S.1; CCPR.9.3.S.2
CCPR.9.3.P.1
CCPR.9.2.O.4
2
Article 65 to 67, Islamic Penal Code (2013), Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, https://iranhrdc.org/englishtranslation-of-books-i-ii-of-the-new-islamic-penal-code/
3
https://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/show/932384
4
Joint NGO submission, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Impact Iran, UPR 2019, Iran, http://impactiran.org/wpcontent/uploads/2019/10/UPR34_Iran_FactSheet_Prison.for_.Debt_.pdf
5
https://www.asriran.com/fa/news/609909

1

Select target paragraph3