Legal Medical Council independence

The Legal Medicine Organizations (LMO) are mandated to advocate for national and international protocols and guidelines

Modern medicine is an assortment of medical science with social responsibilities and legal regulations.[1] Medical jurisprudence (a.k.a Legal Medicine) is a division of medicine investigating medicolegal cases involving death, rape, claims regarding mistreatment or tortures in prisons and legal detainment, honor killing, domestic violence, etc. [2] Legal medicine applies medical knowledge to legal issues and inquests in the field of law. Legal medicine has traditionally been a multidisciplinary field and it requires healthcare providers to discover and declare evidence as an expert witness. [1] The Legal Medicine Organizations (LMO) are mandated to advocate for national and international protocols and guidelines. 

The Istanbul Protocol is one of the important human rights protocols and an instrument in the fight against torture which has been produced with the collaboration of multiple medical, mental, and human rights organizations. The Istanbul Protocol was originally published in 1999 and it includes a series of principles that determine the minimum standards for States to investigate and document torture and ill-treatment as defined by the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984. [3]

The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations (UN), and related organizations such as the United Nations Human Right Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) emphasize the independence of the Legal Medicine Organization.  According to Istanbul Protocol “ When a detainee or relative or lawyer lodges a torture complaint, an inquiry should always take place… Independent national authorities, such as a national commission or ombudsman with investigatory and/or prosecutorial powers, should be established to receive and investigate complaints. Complaints about torture should be dealt with immediately. They should be investigated by an independent authority with no relation to that which is investigating or prosecuting the case against the alleged victim.” [4]

The WHO in its report about Iran is optimistic about the fact of the existence of Legal Medicine Organization but also conveys concerns about further challenges including inconsistent, irregularity, and incompleteness in the reporting system; the inappropriate and inadequate structure for coordinating health information system activities and accountability at national and subnational levels; the deterioration of the central statistics unit of the Islamic Republic of Iran 27 Ministry of Health and Medical Education in recent years. [5]

Per frequent reports from multiple independent international organizations such as the International Amnesty International the authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) heavily influence the forensic legal medical reports. As an example of many, the death in custody of 22 years old Kurdish girl, Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, in September of 2022, who was violently arrested by IRI’s “morality” police brought international attention to torture and violent act by IRI. However, despite credible reports of ill-treatment and other torture reports, the LMO report published with very vague and include multiple medical controversies indicating the underlying condition as the cause of death. The international amnesty conveyed serious concern and mandated independent, impartial, and effective investigation, and those suspected of responsibility were brought to justice in fair trials. [6]

The jurisdictional authorities of IRI are committing outrageous violations of the right to life by purposely refusing life-saving healthcare to prisoners and restricting access to medical care throughout their imprisonment, ultimately resulting in preventable loss of life. Despite deep-rooted patterns of systematic ignorance, the legal authorities dependent on the IRI government, including but not limited to the Legal Medicine Organization- in the majority of cases- have refused to proceed with genuine, prompt, in-depth, transparent, and independent investigations following reports of deliberate and unlawful denial of medical care, let alone ensure that those responsible are retaliated and penalized. [7]

The IIPHA attempts to shed light on the independence of the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran and unlawful acts and reports as the consequence of the lack of independence.


  1. James C. Mohr. (1993.) Doctors and the Law: Medical Jurisprudence in Nineteenth-Century America, Oxford University Press, New York City.
  2. Theodric Romeyn Beck and William Dunloop. (1825.) Elements of Medical Jurisprudence, 2 ed., Oxford University Press.
  3.; Istanbul Protocol: Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (2022 edition)
  4.; PROFESSIONAL TRAINING SERIES No. 8/Rev.1 UNITED NATIONS New York and Geneva, 2004 Istanbul Protocol Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  5.; WHO, Health Profile 2015, The Islamic Republic of Iran.
  6. Iran: Urgent international action needed to ensure accountability for Mahsa Amini’s death in custody



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