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What is the Iran Prison Atlas?

The Iran Prison Atlas (IPA) is a comprehensive database of political prisoner cases in Iran. The IPA gathers and verifies three types of information:

  • Cases of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience
  • Information on the prison conditions under which those political prisoners are held
  • Information on the judges who sentence the prisoners

The first version of the Iran Prison Atlas was released in 2011. Since March 2016, the scope of the activities of the IPA has expanded and it is now available to users in the current format. The current version of the IPA contains information gathered since March 2016.


What is the purpose of the Iran Prison Atlas?

Our team aims to:

  • Resolve news inconsistencies by gathering and verifying information
  • Enable long-term attention to political prisoners regardless of the fame or media salience of prisoners
  • Record human rights abuses in prisons
  • Record abuses by judges against prisoners
  • Increase the visibility of political prisoners and increase the possibility of human rights assistance
  • Provide an immersive image of the status of political and ideological prisoners according to domestic law and international human rights law by categorizing information with different criteria


Is the IPA useful for political activists, academics, or human rights organizations?

Iran Prison Atlas is an advocacy tool for NGOs, activists, foreign governments, and all people working to improve human rights in Iran. The Atlas is designed to record the treatment of every current Iranian political prisoner.

By dividing prisoners by activity, gender, religion, ethnicity, charges and human rights violations and combining them with our Timeline, the Iran Prison Atlas enables political, social, and human rights researchers and activists to:

  • Understand or detect possible patterns of human rights abuses
  • Plan to stop these patterns


With the help of the IPA human rights organizations can:

  • Use a reliable source for constant monitoring of the human rights situation of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience
  • Iran Prison Atlas’ interactive tools allow users to identify patterns of abuse by Iranian judges, mistreatment at various detention centers, and conviction trends based on ethnics, religion, gender, activity, and other classifications

Key people in the Iranian human rights movement are using the Atlas. For example, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, regularly used the Atlas in his reports. Iran Prison Atlas has also been a pivotal tool in encouraging countries to vote for UN resolutions calling on Iran to improve its human rights record.


How is the scope of prisoners' activity determined?

The IPA classifies prisoners based on the scope of their possible activity. There are currently 16 activity scopes in the IPA. Three of these are explained below:

  • Facing other religious charges: the IPA will list prisoners in the category of “facing other religious charges“ if the individual is charged with collaborating with armed religious groups or promoting them and informed sources have been silent about the case. This category is originally temporary, and associated profiles will either be deleted or transferred to other categories.
  • Facing other political charges: the IPA will list prisoners in the category of “facing other political charges“ if the scope of activity of a prisoner is completely unclear or he/she is charged with using weapons or espionage activities and there is insufficient information to delete the profile or move it to other categories.
  • Accused of collaboration with foreign governments: Dual Citizen Defendants who have been arrested for political reasons as a result of internal conflicts or for foreign concessions or people who have been arrested on charges such as espionage or contact with hostile governments according to domestic and international human rights organizations or public opinion will be listed in this category. 


Is the Iran Prison Atlas, really an Atlas?

The Iran Prison Atlas is really an Atlas. The only difference between this Atlas with conventional Atlases is that its researchers are both searching for what happened in the past and are currently updating information.

Please note that the information of all prisoners is not published in the media, and some files cannot be accessed by the IPA. The fact is, there is no reliable estimate of the number of such cases.

The Atlas enables users not only to zoom in and see the story of one person but also to zoom out and see patterns and trends of abuse among Iranian prisons and judges. The Atlas pairs unique stories with the big picture and is a valuable tool for anyone working for judicial and prison reform and the release of all political prisoners.

A real-time interactive map shows the distribution and the population of political prisoners in each prison. Users can monitor trends or drill into the data by focusing, for example, only on lockups administered by the Ministry of Intelligence.

A demographic matrix helps users sort current political prisoners based on ethnicity, gender, charges, and other classifications. Finally, Iran Prison Atlas ranks judges based on a number of factors, including those who have given the highest average prison terms against current political prisoners, highest total verdicts against political prisoners, or the highest number of procedural violations against political prisoners.