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Sanctions Targeting Rights Abuses in Iran


Evin prison in Tehran, Iran.

The United States Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on Sohrab Soleimani, the former head of the Tehran Prison Organization, and the Organization itself for serious human rights abuses.

The United States Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on Sohrab Soleimani, the former head of the Tehran Prison Organization, and the Organization itself for serious human rights abuses.

The sanctions are outside the scope of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and are fully consistent with U.S. commitments under the deal.

White House Spokesman Sean Spicer announced the move at a press briefing:

“The individual who was designated for his role in abuses in Iran’s prison is the brother of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s IRGC Quds Force, who was himself previously designated under terrorism, counter-proliferation, and human rights authorities.”

As the State Department’s latest human rights report on Iran noted, there are many credible reports of security forces and prison personnel torturing and abusing detainees and prisoners. In a press statement, the Treasury Department observed that “Evin Prison is one of Iran’s most notorious facilities, due to the detention of many prisoners of conscience and well-documented accounts of their mistreatment and abuse. Former prisoners of Evin Prison have reported harsh interrogations, forced confessions, psychological and physical torture, and denial of access to medical care.”

The Treasury Department specifically pointed to an April 2014 incident at Evin, where “dozens of security guards and senior prison officials severely beat political prisoners being held in Ward 350. The attack lasted several hours and over 30 prisoners were wounded or injured…Sohrab Soleimani was the head of the Tehran Prisons Organization during this violent event.”

He holds a leadership position within the State Prisons Organization.

The new designations by the Treasury Department, said John Smith, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, “highlight our continued support for the Iranian people and demonstrate our commitment to hold the Government of Iran responsible for its continued repression of its own citizens.”

White House Spokesperson Spicer noted that “the sanctions against human rights abusers in Iran’s prisons come at a time when Iran continues to unjustly detain in its prisons various foreigners.”

OFAC Director Smith said, “We will continue to identify, call out, and sanction those who are responsible for serious human rights abuses in Iran.”

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