Amnesty: Child Detainees in Iran Subjected to Torture and Violence Topic: Children's Rights

Amnesty: Child Detainees in Iran Subjected to Torture and Violence Topic: Children's Rights


Bilge Ece Zeyrek

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

On March 16 2023, Amnesty International published a report on children detained in Iran due to their participation in protests that have taken place throughout the country. According to the report, Iranian security and intelligence personnel have been engaging in atrocious forms of torture, such as physical assault, whipping, electric shocks, sexual assault, and rape, against child protesters as young as 12 years old. [1]

Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman of 22 years, passed away in a Tehran hospital in September 2022 under dubious conditions. She had been apprehended by the Iranian religious morality police on charges of violating the country’s stringent hijab rules. In response to Amini’s death, protests have erupted, with some female demonstrators opting to remove their hijab or cut their hair short as a form of protest. [2] However, the authorities have reacted by cracking down on the demonstrators, leading to the detention of thousands and the death of hundreds at the hands of security forces. [3]

Amnesty International has estimated that numerous children might have been detained during the recent wave of arrests. This estimate is further supported by the fact that young people have played a significant role in the protests. Amnesty’s report discloses the brutality inflicted on children who were detained during or after demonstrations. Child detainees have been held alongside grown-ups, which goes against global standards, and exposed to the same acts of torment and mistreatment. Children in custody have been physically abused by security personnel during arrest, transportation and their stay in detention facilities. Other forms of torture reported include whippings, shocking with stun guns, forced intake of unknown pills, and submerging children’s heads under water.

A large proportion of the children who were taken into custody in the last six months seem to have been set free, sometimes with the provision of bail while investigations or trials are ongoing. However, many of these children were only let go after being coerced into signing letters of “repentance,” in which they promised not to engage in political activities and to attend government-endorsed gatherings. To intimidate them, state agents frequently threatened to prosecute the children on charges that carry the death penalty or to arrest their relatives if they spoke out. 

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, says, “the authorities must immediately release all children detained solely for peacefully protesting.” Eltahawy continues that since there is little chance of unbiased investigations in Iran about the torture of children, the plea is for all countries to use universal jurisdiction and hold Iranian officials accountable, particularly those in command or with greater responsibility, which are reasonably suspected of committing international crimes, such as the torture of child protestors. [4] CNN has attempted to obtain a statement from the Iranian government, but they have not replied yet. Additionally, the government has not made any public statements regarding the report. [5]

Sources and Further Reading

[1] Iran: Child detainees subjected to flogging, electric shocks and sexual violence in brutal protest crackdown. (2023, March 16). Amnesty International.

[2] Igdir, I. (2022, September 23). A new symbol of resistance against oppression: The unprecedented wave of protests fuelled by Iranian women following the death of Mahsa Amini. GHRTV.

[3] At Least 100 Protesters Facing Execution, Death Penalty Charges or Sentences; At Least 476 Protesters Killed. (2022. December 27). Iran Human Rights.

[4] Amnesty International. (2023, March 16) from [1]

[5] Alam Atay, H. (2023, March 16). Child detainees in Iran subjected to flogging, electric shocks and sexual violence, says Amnesty. CNN.