In a visit with the East Azerbaijan Governor on March 5, the Head of Iran’s Prison Organizations said prisoners were cheap labor and could be used by the private sector.
“Prisoners are cheap labor and can be used by the private sector”, Mohammad Mehdi Haj Mohammadi said in comments carried by the state-run ISNA News Agency, adding that it would be a “win-win” situation for both prisoners and the private sector.
Haj Mohammadi was appointed as the Head of Iran’s Prison Organizations in June 2020.
Previously as the Head of the Guidance Prosecutor in July 2019, Haj Mohammadi had announced that new social media channels in Instagram and Iran’s own homegrown messaging services would be launched for ordinary Iranians to report each other’s “immoral” conduct.
Haj Mohammadi had said that the new launch was “to speed up the process of dealing with norm breakers and to use the capacity of citizens” to better crack down on civil liberties in the capital.
“The new era of the cooperative foundation is the era of changing priorities and fundamentally reviewing structures and programs. Prisoners’ employment should be chosen over profitability,” he said in a ceremony on December 2020.
According to official sources, there are over 200,000 prisoners in Iran’s prisons though the actual numbers are much higher. These figures do not include detainees and those who have yet to receive sentences. Reports indicate that more than 50% of prisoners are forced into cheap labor. Prisoners in Iran are subjected to atrocious conditions, mistreatment, and torture.
In August 2020, there were numerous reports that showed prison guards impose forced labor on prisoners in Tehran’s Evin Prison, Qarchak Prison in Varamin, Central Karaj Prison, and prisoners in the northern province of Gilan.
In a report from the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, also known as Fashafuyeh Prison, located 30 kilometers south of Tehran, some prisoners are assigned to do work in the prison workshops with little or no pay.
For example in Evin Prison, prisoners in Section 7 are forced to work in the sewing workshop for only 20,000 tomans (around 80 cents) a week, doing eight hours of work a day. These prisoners are transferred from the Greater Tehran Penitentiary to Evin Prison on the condition that they work at Evin Prison. They prefer Evin Prison in northern Tehran because their families can visit them without traveling the long distance to the Greater Tehran Penitentiary.