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1. What is Iran Prison Atlas (IPA)?

Iran Prison Atlas (IPA) is a comprehensive database of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran, created and administered by the non-profit organization United for Iran. IPA collects, verifies, and publishes the following types of information:

  • Cases of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience
  • Information on the prisons and prison conditions under which these prisoners are held
  • Information on the perpetrators and courts that sentence these prisoners
  • The first version of IPA was released in 2011. In March 2016, IPA expanded the scope of its activities and the methodology of data collected. As such, the current IPA only contains information gathered since March 2016.

    2. What is the purpose of the Iran Prison Atlas?

    United for Iran sees the status of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience as a lens by which to better understand the human rights situation in Iran. The arrest and detention of political prisoners is a direct reflection of the status of fundamental freedoms in Iran, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and religion. Moreover, the treatment of prisoners in Iran also reveals patterns of human rights violations committed by the Iranian state against the most vulnerable.

    The purpose of IPA is to:

  • Record human rights abuses against political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran
  • Record abuses by perpetrators against political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran
  • Resolve news inconsistencies by verifying and corroborating public information
  • Increase the visibility of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran as a tactic to mitigate harsh treatment by Iranian authorities
  • Encourage long-term attention to all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, not only those who are prominent in the media
  • Provide an immersive image of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and the status of their rights under Iranian law and international human rights law
  • 3. Who can use or benefit from the data in IPA?

    IPA is an educational and advocacy tool for political activists, academics, human rights organizations, governments, and all people working to improve human rights in Iran. IPA is designed to record information in real-time about political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran and their treatment in detention. IPA collects and sorts information about prisoners, including their gender, religion, ethnicity, impugned activity, charges, and the human rights violations committed against them. With this information, researchers and activists can better detect and understand patterns of human rights abuses, including discriminatory practices within the Iranian judiciary and prison system, as well as monitor positive or negative trends in the treatment of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

    IPA has been frequently used by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, as well as international human rights monitors, UN human rights bodies, and international lawyers.

    4. Who is responsible for gathering and verifying IPA data?

    IPA comprises a team of knowledgeable Iranian researchers with extensive experience documenting human rights abuses, many of whom are former political prisoners. IPA researchers gather and verify data about political prisoners and prisoners of conscience through multiple credible sources, including but not limited to prisoners’ family members, media, non-governmental organisations, and other protected sources.

    5. Does IPA include information about all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience?

    IPA researchers, like all Iranian human rights defenders, face severe challenges in acquiring and verifying data on political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. There is severe state repression in Iran and a lack of independent media. Most notably, after the 2009 contested election, Iranian authorities shut down numerous domestic human rights organizations that had been operating informally in Iran. Authorities also commonly intimidate and threaten family members of political prisoners in order to prevent them from speaking to the media and to international human rights groups. These restrictions on the free flow of information are significant barriers to providing a comprehensive atlas of political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, prisons, and perpetrators in Iran. IPA researchers attempt to document as many cases as possible, however, we believe that the actual number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran is higher than what is represented in the atlas.

    6. Does IPA guarantee the veracity of all the information in the database?

    IPA researchers engage in a multi-step process to validate the information in each case and ensure its veracity. This process was designed by IPA researchers with over 10 years of experience in investigating Iranian political prisoners, prisons, and perpetrators. Nevertheless, gathering information on cases governed by a non-independent and deliberately vague judiciary has many challenges and complexities. As such, United for Iran provides the IPA data for information and fact-gathering purposes, and cannot be held legally liable for the content of the information provided.

    Human rights activists and researchers who are interested in more detailed data about specific cases should email ipa[at]

    7. I know someone who has been arrested in Iran for political reasons, a perpetrator who has made a ruling for political reasons, or a detention center where someone is imprisoned for political reasons. Can I add my own information to the IPA?

    If you have information about a political prisoner, prisoner of conscience, perpetrator, prison, detention center, or a security or judicial center involved in dealing with political, civic, or religious activists, please send an email to ipa[at] IPA researchers will review your information and publish it when verified, or contact you with additional questions.