July 8, 2014—The United States should reinstate sanctions on Iran’s state TV and radio broadcasting agency, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), for the continuation of its widespread human rights violations, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. The US Treasury had issued a six-month waiver of IRIB sanctions in February 2014, which expires in August.
In a new briefing paper released today, Iran’s State TV: A Major Human Rights Violator, the Campaign details IRIB’s routine filming and broadcasting of forced confessions by detainees, and Iran’s continued practice of jamming international satellite broadcasts, which allows the Islamic Republic to block content and restrict Iranians to state-approved broadcasts. These are both practices for which the US Treasury originally sanctioned IRIB in February 2013.
(To download the briefing paper, Iran’s State TV: A Major Human Rights Violator, click here.)
“It is critical at this juncture that the US demonstrate that Iran must honor the international commitments it makes in word and deed,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Campaign. “IRIB continues to be a central tool of state repression; it has not earned the continuation of the waiver.”
The briefing paper documents IRIB’s active collusion with security and intelligence officials to extract confessions, which are often elicited under torture and then used to discredit and convict detainees. The paper’s Appendix documents multiple forced confessions recently broadcast by IRIB. In addition, IRIB broadcasts show trials and false “news” reports to conceal human rights violations, and airs defamatory content to discredit dissidents.
The paper also addresses the issue of Iran’s satellite jamming. Following an international campaign during 2010-2013 against Iran’s international satellite jamming, Iran ceased engaging in the direct jamming of satellites. Consequently, the US Administration decided in February 2014 to waive its sanctions on IRIB for a 180-day period, based on this cessation.
However, in the new paper, the Campaign has presented data showing that Iran has actually just altered its method of jamming: instead of sending jamming signals directly to the broadcasting satellites (a practice known as “uplink” jamming), Iran has intensified its practice of local jamming (also known as “downlink” or “terrestrial” jamming), whereby the jamming signals are directed at the local receptors of the satellite signals, usually rooftop satellite dishes inside Iran.
The result is still the same: the authorities are able to block all content at will. Persian-language news broadcast such as BBC Persian, VOA Persian, and Radio Farda are particularly targeted.
IRIB’s sanctions waiver expires in August 2014. At that time the Campaign urges the US Treasury to reinstate the sanctions on IRIB in full. The sanctions on IRIB should be removed only when Iran ceases all signal jamming and IRIB completely ends its active collusion with security and intelligence officials in the filming and broadcasting of forced confessions, show trials, and defamatory “reports.”