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Template:Capital punishment Capital punishment in Iran is applied.[1] Crimes that are punishable by execution include: murder, adultery, rape, kidnapping, pedophilia[2], armed robbery, espionage, drug trafficking and terrorism[3]. Iran has garnered much media attention and criticism due to alleged claims of stoning and executions carried out on minors, despite having signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbids executing child offenders for crimes committed under the age of 18.[4][5][6][7] However, Iran claims dispensation in cases where the Convention is deemed "incompatible with Islamic jurisprudence".[8] An Iranian judiciary spokesman fiercely denied that it executes juvenile criminals or stones people to death, describing it as "propaganda against Iranian state "[9]. Iran has the second highest execution rate in the world, second to China, although other countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria and many more allegedly carry out secret executions. [10] [11]. Crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, drug trafficking, adultery, etc are punishable by death. Since the 1979 revolution, Iran uses a modified version of Sharia law, integrated into a civil law system.

Virtually all executions in Iran are carried out for the following two crimes: murder and drug trafficking. Occasionally using illegal firearms to murder/attempt murder (armed robbery), and aggravated rape carry the death penalty. Adultery executions are generally carried out if the offender had committed murder.

Offenders under age of 18

Despite signing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran is the world's biggest executioner of convicts under the age of 18, for which it has received international condemnation; the country's record is the focus of the Stop Child Executions Campaign. Iran accounts for two-thirds of the global total of such executions, may have 120 convicts on death row for murders committed as juveniles (other countries carrying it out are Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and up to 2005, the United States, see Roper v. Simmons) .[12][13]

In 2008, Iran declared that it only carries out executions after the felon has turned 18. It further announced that youth would only be eligible for the death penalty for crimes subject to qisas, in effect, only for committing murder where no arrangement could be made with the victim's family.[14]

Although Iran is the focus of juvenile executions, other countries, like Sudan and Saudi Arabia legally carry them out, and some, like Nigeria and Pakistan, allegedly carry them out illegally. [15]

Capital crimes

Qisas Crimes (murder)

In Sharia law, a Qisas crime is a class of crime that deserves retribution. It is prosecuted under Iran's Qisas Law. Intentional injury and intentional murder (ghatl-e-amnd) are the only qisas crimes, and is treated as a personal settlement between the victim (victim's family) and the perpetrator. Qisas crime calls for retribution, an "eye for an eye", or a "life for a life" in the case of a murder, unless the victim's family forgives the criminal by receiving Diyya, which is blood money, to compensate the loss of life. If the family refuses to accept blood money, the murderer will be executed (or lose the same limb that he took from the victim if he/she is still alive)Not the case for women . Judges may only give the death sentence in a murder case, and the criminal can only appeal the conviction, not the sentence given. Only the forgiveness of the family can stop an execution for murder. Judges may only recommend the course of action the family takes, and usually try to get the family to give mercy to the murderer. It is not known what percent of families forgive the murderer, but it is probable that the majority do.

Hadd/Tazir crimes

A Hadd (or hudud) crime is a class of crime considered to be a felony, and a tazir crime is a misdemeanor. They are tried under Iran's Tazir Law. Murder is a hudud crime, subject to qisas (see above). Hudud crimes are rape, armed robbery, adultery, apostasy, homosexuality, grand theft, etc. In rare circumstances, they can receive the death penalty, almost always for aggravated rape. Other hudud crimes generally receive a heavy prison sentence, or possibly corporal punishment. Tazir crimes are discretionary by the judge, and never result in execution. Adultery receives the mandatory death sentence like murder, however it is not prosecuted unless in conjunction with another crime, such as murder or rape. For example, Sakineh Ashtiani had been sentenced to death in two seperate trials for murder of her husband and adultery (see below). Although Sharia law says four witnesses or the criminal's confession must prove a hudud crime, Iranian law also allows circumstantial evidence and expert witnesses in the testimony. Unlike qisas crimes, regular hudud crimes can be appealed, and the sentence can be commuted.

In July 2005 the Iranian Student News Agency covered the execution of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in Mashhad, which drew international attention when disturbing photos of the hanging were widely distributed around the Internet.[16] The executions of the two teenagers divided the human rights community over whether it was a gay issue; all human rights groups condemned the hangings as they were for crimes allegedly committed when the boys were minors.[17] The initial report from the Iranian Student News Agency, a government press agency, had stated that they were hanged for homosexual crimes and rape of a 13-year-old boy (his father was interviewed about the case in the local Mashad newspaper). Internet gay advocacy groups like OutRage! asserted that they were hanged for only for homosexuality, deliberately ignoring the part of their charges about rape. After the international outcry, the Iranian government stated once again the hangings were for raping the boy. Human Rights Watch, while not agreeing with the brutality of the hangings, stated it was "deeply disturbed about the apparent indifference of many people to the alleged rape of a 13-year-old". Under a change in Iranian laws since then, these two boys would not have been executed if their crime had occurred today, since only murderers can be executed under 18. Upon examination of the facts, it is very questionable if Iran in the 21st century execute people solely because they are gay.

Crimes against National Security

Crimes against national security and the state are tried in the Islamic Revolutionary Court system. It handles all political, drug/arms, corruption, terrorism, espionage cases. These courts were originally created by Ayatollah Khomeini to eliminate political opponents and stabilize the country, and have no basis in Sharia law. People who go before these courts can get the death penalty or heavy prison sentences. They can be compared to the federal court system in the US.

Iran is currently fighting a large scale drug war on its border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, since both countries have large scale opium production. The death penalty for drug trafficking and is an important tool in fighting the drug traffickers, and are the biggest contributor to Iran's high death penalty rate. As of 2010, more than 8,000 Iranian soldiers have died in the last 15 years fighting the drug gangs, mostly in the Sistan and Baluchestan Province


Firing squad

The Firing squad is seldom used in Iran today. However they have been used historically for military and political crimes. In 1974, under the Shah's regime, Khosrow Golesorkhi and Keramat Danishiyan, two Marxist activists, were executed by firing squad for the trumped up charge of conspiring to kidnap Reza Pahlavi, the Crown Prince of Iran. The were executed after their famous televised trial in Tehran. This case was one of the big events that turned the opinion of the public against the Shah. In the years after the Islamic Revolution, hundreds, if not thousands of people were shot for crimes against the Islamic Republic by the newly established Revolutionary Courts, including many of the Shah's former ministers, such as former Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveida, head of SAVAK, General Nematollah Nassiri, and others. These "trials" were meant to eliminate whoever opposed the regime, and often lasted minutes, and the judgement could not be appealed. Typically, the "firing squad" consisted of a single executioner standing in front of the victim with automatic rifle. Ayatollah Khomeini himself faced a firing squad for treason against the Shah in 1964 by a military court, but his sentence was commuted to exile in Iraq (General Hassan Pakravan, who helped commute Khomeini's sentence was one of the first shot upon Khomeini's return). In 1980, Jahangir Razmi won the Pulitzer Prize for his famous and gut wrenching photo Firing Squad in Iran" which showed 9 Kurds being executed minutes after being convicted for "terrorism and crimes against God" by a Revolutionary Court judge in the airport in Sanandaj. The firing squad has been seldom used since 1990, but up to 30,000 people may have been shot, hanged, or died in prison during that period of time, mostly leftists, oppositionists, and also drug traffickers. One of the most famous "hanging" judges in Iran was Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, the first head of the Revolutionary Court, who sentenced drug traffickers and former members of the Shah's government to be shot. Incidentally, he was the same judge who convicted the men in Razmi's photo minutes before it was taken.


Hanging is in almost all cases the sole method of execution in Iran today. Iran is credited to be the first country in the world to adopt hanging (2,500 years ago), and is still used today. In 21st century Iran, virtually all executions are carried out by hanging. The execution is usually carried out in prison, with the prisoner(s) hanged from a tall platform, stool, or pickup truck bed. (Most countries use a trapdoor mechanism to drop the convict). Despite human rights groups and media claims that this method is used to inflict pain on the condemned, most videos taken of Iranian hangings show that the condemned usually fall from the platform enough distance to have their necks broken. If the presiding judge considers the crime was severe enough that it "causes public outrage", he can order that the hanging(s) be carried out in public, generally at the spot that the crime was committed. In 2007, Majid and Hossein Kavousifar were hanged in downtown Tehran for murdering a judge and separately, shooting two innocent people in a bank robbery. In January 2008, Iran banned public executions except in rare cases that the Supreme Court personally approved of it. [18] Famous hangings in Iran throughout the ages were Haman from the Bible, Sheikh Fazlollah Nouri in 1908, serial killer Mohammed Bijeh, the "Desert Vampire" who raped and murdered 17 boys in 2005, and many more. At dawn on July 27, 2007, 29 men were hanged in Evin Prison on various charges of murder and drug trafficking. In 2010, Shahla Jahed was hanged in Tehran for the 2002 murder of the wife of Iran footballer Nasser Mohammad Khani. In 2009, an execution of two men in a prison in Sirjan for bank robbery and assault with illegal firearms was broken up when the relatives broke into the prison, stormed the gallows, and cut the men down, who turned out to still be alive. The two were later recaptured and hanged again. A video of the incident was posted on the Internet.


Stoning for adultery was added to the Islamic Penal Code in 1983.

Iranian officials denied the whole story as "claims by media and human rights groups"[19], while a few years earlier similar claims were also rejected as propaganda against Iran with the appendage that "Stoning has been dropped from the penal code for a long time, and in the Islamic republic, we do not see such punishments being carried out", said judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad[9]. Adultery executions are very few in Iran, and almost always carried out in conjunction with another death sentence, such as murder, generally resulting in a hanging. Sakineh Ashtiani was originally sentenced to death in 2006 by hanging for murder of her husband, but after paying diyya, her murder sentence was annulled and received 10 years imprisonment and 99 lashes for it. She was also sentenced to death in a separate trial for adultery, and the appeals court did not overturn her stoning death sentence. After international outcry, she was given a stay of execution. Her case is in a legal limbo as of November 2010. The man who she was a co-conspirator with (and one of the men she committed adultery with) was given 10 years imprisonment and 99 lashes after paying diyya to the family.

See also


  1. "China Leads Death List as Number of Executions Around the World Soars", Common Dreams NewsCenter, 5 April 2005. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  2. "Response to Peter Tatchell's 'Open Letter,'" distributed on e-mail by Scott Long, Human Rights Watch, July 18, 2006.
  3. PressTV: Jundallah leader Rigi executed in Iran (20 June 2010)
  4. "Template:PDFlink", Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 9 June 2004. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  5. "Iran 'must stop youth executions'", BBC News, 28 July 2005. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  6. "Death penalty in Iran 'vice' case", BBC News, 22 December. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  7. "UN chides Iran over human rights", BBC News, 21 December 2004. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  9. 9.0 9.1 BBC: Iran denies execution by stoning
  12. Iranian activists fight child executions, Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press, September 17, 2008; accessed September 22, 2008.
  13. Iran rapped over child executions, Pam O'Toole, BBC, June 27, 2007; accessed September 22, 2008.
  14. Iran: No death penalty for youths, except for murder, being gay and for women many more non-death related charges, Reuters, October 21, 2008
  16. Iran Does Far Worse Than Ignore Gays, Critics Say, Fox News, September 25, 2007; accessed September 20, 2008.
  17. Witnesses to an Execution, Richard Kim, The Nation, August 7, 2005; accessed September 20, 2008.
  19. PressTV: Iran denies stoning claims (Friday, July 9, 2010)

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:Asia topic

it:Pena di morte in Iran nl:Doodstraf in Iran ja:イランにおける死刑

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