Executions in 2018: min. 690 plus 'thousands' in China

The Death Penalty in Iran

Iran executed according to Amnesty International a minimum number of 977 people in 2015 and thus was after China the nation with the most executions carried out within only one year. 

In Iran the Sharia, or traditional Islamic law, is being applied and due to the countries  interpretation of it, the death penalty can be imposed not only for premeditated murder, adultery and rape, but also for homosexuality, consumption of alcohol, sodomy or estrangement from Islam;  murder, rape, drug trafficking and blasphemy are also punishable by flogging.

Another crime punishable by death is “Moharebeh” (being at enmity with God). This statutory offense is defined very vaguely in the Iranian law and is often levied against people who are being accused of armed struggle against Iran, armed robbery or espionage. Politically dissenting people are always in danger of being convicted of this crime.  

Due to the Sharia and Iran’s having signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights mentally retarded people and juveniles are not allowed to be sentenced to death. In spite of this juveniles are repeatedly being sentenced to death by special juvenile courts due to Iranian interpretation that a girl becomes an adult at the age of nine years and a boy at the age of fifteen years.  

In the 1980’s thousands of people were sentenced in so-called quick trials in which they had little opportunity to defend themselves and were executed. The mass trials and convictions of the participants of the non-violent protests which occurred after the election in the year 2009 meet neither constitutional nor Islamic standards. Iranian critics speak of a misuse of the law as an instrument of terror here as well.  

The Sharia acknowledges the testimony and the attestation of so-called 'righteous men' as a means of evidence; therefore they give direction for the sentence and can’t be challenged by the defendant. Often a defendant does not have a lawyer; confessions are also being enforced by torture.  

If someone is convicted of murder, this does not automatically mean that the person will also be executed. The closest male family member of the victim has the right to decide if he wants to grant clemency in return for a financial compensation (the convict will be set free if this happens) or if he wants to insist on the execution of the convict.  

Executions take place in public (hanging on a crane) but also in secret (hanging or shooting).

There are special rules for stoning. The stones are not allowed to be large enough to kill the delinquent with the first throws of stones, but still have to be large enough to cause injuries. During stoning women are buried in the soil up to their shoulders, men up to their hips after which men who are standing in a circle around the damned will throw stones until the condemned person is dead. If a convict manages to free himself during the stoning and walk out of the circle this is seen as an ordeal and the person is free afterwards; this rarely happens.  

The numbers of executions in Iran are rising: Whereas in the year 2005 only ninety four (94) persons were executed (including eight minors), in the year 2009 at least 388 executions were carried out due to Amnesty International. The development during the last five years were also not more hopeful: Amnesty International estimates that a minimum of another 454 people were executed in 2014, even those figures were not acknowledged by Iranian authorities, and almost 1000 in 2015.

Sources: "Death Sentences and Executions 2015", report from Amnesty International, published in April 2016; "Growing up on Death Row: The Death Penalty and Juvenile Offenders in Iran", report from Amnesty International, published in January 2016.

Further reading recommendation: "Meet the teenage girls on Iran´s death row", Quartz, from february 2016.



Do you know your Rights?

Over and over again we can read about the 'Human Rights' in the media. But barely anybody knows what really belongs to these 'Human Rights' and what doesn’t.  

You’ll find the most important Human Rights tools here.  


Information, news and thoughts on Capital Punishment and Human Rights.

Read more....