Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Monday, 17 January 2005

Ebadi condemns Iran prison regime

By Frances Harrison
BBC News, Tehran

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi speaks during her 17 January press conference in Tehran
Ebadi described her own experience in solitary confinement

Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi has issued a bold appeal to outlaw the use of solitary confinement in jails.

She said the practice was widespread in the case of political prisoners, but was a form of torture which had no legal justification.

Ms Ebadi was herself under threat of arrest after defying a summons to appear before a revolutionary court.

But a judicial official has now said the Tehran-based human rights lawyer will not be arrested.

Ms Ebadi described how her own experience of solitary confinement brought back a childhood stutter which she had overcome at the age of 14.

Other opposition figures gave harrowing accounts of repeated periods in solitary confinement in Iranian jails.

Terrifying ordeal

Some prisoners have spent more than 400 days locked alone in cells about 1.5 metres square, often deprived of sleep by excessive light or alternatively kept in darkness.

Those who had been arrested in the early days of the revolution said they had heard firing squads from inside their cells at night.

By comparison, a student leader arrested four years ago and forced to make a false confession said he was thankful he had been jailed during the reform period in Iran.

And a web-logger just released from jail said he had found it very difficult to accept that such immoral and unethical behaviour could happen in jails in Iran.

The 26-year-old who was kept in solitary confinement for two months said that, compared with his interrogations, he felt his cell was the safest place.

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