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Capital punishment in Iran is applied.[1] Crimes that are punishable by execution include: sodomy,[2] murder, apostasy[3] amongst others. Iran has garnered much media attention and criticism due to a number of 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]

Contents

Child offenders

Outside the United Nations headquarters when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the governing body human rights organizations set up a display symbolizing how many women, children and gay men have been allegedly executed in Iran since 2005.

Iran, despite signing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is the world's biggest executioner of child offenders, 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, and currently has roughly 120 people on death row for crimes committed as juveniles (up from 71 in 2007).[8][9] The recent executions of Mahmoud Asgari, Ayaz Marhoni[5][10] and Makwan Moloudzadeh became international symbols of Iran's child capital punishment and the flawed Iranian judicial system that hands down such sentences.[11][12 ]

In 2004 Atefah Sahaaleh, a 16-year-old schoolgirl from the town of Neka, was executed a week after being sentenced to death by Haji Rezai, head of Neka's clerical court on charges of adultery and "crimes against chastity". Rezai, who submitted and processed the execution order at the Supreme Court himself and put the noose around Sahaaleh's neck, told her “This will teach you to disobey!”. Rezai was later arrested on charges of rape and torture of the defendant.[13][14].

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.[15]

Capital crimes

Apostasy

The founder of the Islamic Republic, Islamic cleric Ruhollah Khomeini, who was a grand Ayatollah, ruled "that the penalty for conversion from Islam, or apostasy, is death."[16]

The sentence of death for the crime of apostasy has been applied in Iran to alleged offenders who have not claimed to have converted to another religion, and whose crime may appear to outsiders to be political rather than religious. Hashem Aghajari, for example was condemned to death for apostasy for a speech urging Iranians to "not blindly follow" Islamic clerics.[17]

Homosexuality

According to The Boroumand Foundation[18], there are records of at least 107 executions with charges related to homosexuality between 1979 and 1990.[19] According to Amnesty International, at least 5 people convicted of "homosexual tendencies", three men and two women, were executed in January 1990, as a result of the Iranian government's policy of calling for the execution of those who practice homosexuality.[20] In April 1992, Dr. Ali Mozafarian, a Sunni Muslim leader in the Fars province (Southern Iran), was executed in Shiraz after being convicted on charges of espionage, adultery, and sodomy. His videotaped confession was broadcast on television in Shiraz and in the streets of Kazerun and Lar.

On November 12, 1995, by the verdict of the eighth judicial branch of Hamadan and the confirmation of the Supreme Court of Iran, Mehdi Barazandeh, otherwise known as Safa Ali Shah Hamadani, was condemned to death. The judicial authorities announced that Barazandeh's crimes were repeated acts of adultery and "the obscene act of sodomy." The court's decree was carried out by stoning Barazandeh. Barazandeh belonged to the Khaksarieh Sect of Dervishes. (Islamic Republic Newspaper - November 14 1995 + reported in Homan's magazine June 10, 1996).

In a November 2007 meeting with his British counterpart, Iranian MP Mohsen Yahyavi admitted that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality. According to Yahyavi, gays deserve to be tortured, executed, or both.[21]

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.[11] 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.[22] The initial report from the ISNA, a government press agency, had stated that they were hanged for homosexuality; after the international outcry, the Iranian government stated the hangings were primarily for raping a boy.

A similar pattern arose with the execution of Makwan Moloudzadeh (sometimes spelled "Mouloudzadeh") on December 6, 2007. Mouloudzadeh maintained his innocence throughout the trial. He was convicted of lavat-e iqabi (anal sex) and executed for raping three teenage boys when he was 13, even though all witnesses had retracted their accusations and Mouloudzadeh withdrew a forced confession.[12 ][23] It is questionable whether Moloudzadeh was gay. Despite international outcry and a nullification of the death sentence by Iranian Chief Justice Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrud, Mouloudzadeh was hung without his family or his attorney being informed until after the fact.[24][25] The execution provoked international outcry since it violated two international treaties signed by Iran that outlaw capital punishment for crimes committed by minors, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[26]

Two men were allegedly hanged publicly in the northern town of Gorgan for homosexual acts in November 2005.[27] In July 2006 two youths were hanged for homosexuality in north-eastern Iran.[28] On November 16, 2006, the State-run news agency reported the public execution of man convicted of sodomy in the western city of Kermanshah.[29]

Methods

Firing squad

Firing squads are seldom used in Iran.[30] In January 2008 a man convicted of raping 17 children was put to death by firing squad, reported the Fars News Agency. But more people have died using this method since.[30]

Hanging

The most common method of execution, hangings are carried out by using an automotive telescoping crane to hoist the condemned aloft in which the condemned is not knocked unconscious immediately (as in long drop hanging) but instead painfully and slowly strangled to death by the noose. This method can take 3–9 minutes to cause the condemned to lose consciousness. Death can take anywhere up to 45 minutes to occur in this method. The death penalty is used for many offenses and is the only punishment for rape, murder and child molestation, with many hangings taking place in public. At dawn on 27 July 2008, the Iranian Government executed a total of 29 people at Evin Prison in Tehran.[1] On 2 December 2008, an unnamed man was hanged for murder at Kazeroun Prison, just moments before he was pardoned by the murder victim's family. He was quickly cut down and rushed to a hospital where he was successfully revived.[31]

Stoning

In May 2006, a group of women's movement activists in Iran initiated the "Stop Stoning Forever" campaign [32]. The objective of this campaign is to change the Islamic Penal Code of Iran such that stoning will never again be issued as a sentence or practiced as a punishment. Until March 2008, the campaign had reportedly saved 5 women from the stoning in association with the Volunteer Lawyers' Network. According to Amnesty International, three people were stoned to death in 2006-2007, and as of January 2008 nine women and two men were sentenced to death by stoning.[33]

In August 2008 the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! announced that there were still at least eight women and one man sentenced to die by stoning for convictions of prostitution, incest and adultery.[34] Two were granted amnesty, two received reduced sentences of imprisonment and/or lashes and five cases are under review.[34] The spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, Alireza Jamshidi, said in a statement, "Don’t forget. One cannot remove the punishment of stoning from the law."[34] The case of Kobra Najjar, a 44 year old woman who was convicted of adultery, but who some say was forced into prostitution by her husband, has received international attention.[35] Her sentence was commuted to 100 lashes early in 2009.[36]

See also

References

  1. ^ "China Leads Death List as Number of Executions Around the World Soars", Common Dreams NewsCenter, 5 April 2005. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  2. ^ Sodomy Laws: Iran, Sodomy Laws. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  3. ^ "Apostacy, "Leaving Islam"", The Peace Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  4. ^ "Status of Ratifications of the Principal International Human Rights TreatiesPDF (106 KB)", Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 9 June 2004. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  5. ^ a b "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.
  8. ^ Iranian activists fight child executions, Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press, September 17, 2008; accessed September 22, 2008.
  9. ^ Iran rapped over child executions, Pam O'Toole, BBC, June 27, 2007; accessed September 22, 2008.
  10. ^ "Execution plea over Iran youths", BBC News, 25 August 2005. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  11. ^ a b Iran Does Far Worse Than Ignore Gays, Critics Say, Fox News, September 25, 2007; accessed September 20, 2008.
  12. ^ a b Iranian hanged after verdict stay; BBCnews.co.uk; 2007-12-06; Retrieved on 2007-12-06
  13. ^ BBC NEWS | Programmes | Execution of a teenage girl
  14. ^ http://web.peykeiran.com/net_iran/irnewsbody.aspx?ID=18928
  15. ^ Iran: No death penalty for youths, except for murder, Reuters, October 21, 2008
  16. ^ hrw.org Iran - THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK Legislation Affecting Freedom of Religion
  17. ^ hrw.org, November 9, 2002 Iran: Academic’s Death Sentence Condemned
  18. ^ The Boroumand Foundation
  19. ^ Search the Iran Human Rights Memorial, Omid - Boroumand Foundation for Human Rights in Iran
  20. ^ Un-named person (male) - Promoting Human Rights in Iran
  21. ^ Gays should be hanged, says Iranian minister; Timesonline.co.uk; 2007-11-13; Retrieved on 2008-04-01
  22. ^ Witnesses to an Execution, Richard Kim, The Nation, August 7, 2005; accessed September 20, 2008.
  23. ^ Amnesty International Press Release after the execution of Moloudzadeh.
  24. ^ Statement of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
  25. ^ Iran seen hanging man for raping boys, Frederick Dahl, Reuters via the International Herald Tribune, December 6, 2007; accessed September 20, 2008.
  26. ^ Statement of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 7, 2007.
  27. ^ Iran: Two More Executions for Homosexual Conduct, Human Rights Watch, November 22, 2005; accessed September 20, 2008.
  28. ^ Brutal land where homosexuality is punishable by death, Ann Penketh, The Independent, March 6, 2008; accessed September 20, 2008.
  29. ^ IGLHRC Condemns Iran’s Continued Use of Sodomy Laws To Justify Executions and Arbitrary Arrests, IGLHRC, July 18, 2007; accessed September 20, 2008.
  30. ^ a b Iran firing squad executes serial child rapist, Agence France-Presse via ABC News (Australia), January 27, 2008; accessed September 22, 2008.
  31. ^ "IRAN: Halted execution highlights inherent cruelty of death penalty". Amnesty International USA (2008-12-09). Retrieved on 11 December 2008.
  32. ^ about the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign
  33. ^ Amnesty demands Iran ends 'grotesque' stoning executions, Ian Black, The Guardian, January 15, 2008; accessed September 21, 2008.
  34. ^ a b c Iran: Death by stoning suspended…but still legal!, Press Release of the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women, August 7, 2008; accessed September 21, 2008.
  35. ^ Save Kobra Najjar, Lynn Harris, Salon.com, July 10, 2008; accessed September 21, 2008.
  36. ^ Amnesty report on Kobra

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