Wednesday, October 19, 2016

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Executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 2005 to July 2016

12. In its response to the present report, the Government again maintains that drug trafficking is a serious offence that requires the use of the death penalty under certain circumstances (which it claims has a “[highly] deterrent effect”) and rejects the adoption of a moratorium on the death penalty. The Government also confirms that there was a “more than 50 per cent decrease in implementation of capital punishment during the first six months of 2016” and maintains that “no information has been received, from any international authorities, regarding non-observance of legal standards” with respect to individuals sentenced to death for drug-related crimes. The Special Rapporteur joins the Secretary-General, the Human Rights Committee and other special procedure mandate holders in their ongoing calls for the Government to reconsider its use of capital punishment.

13. Since 2015, at least two women convicted of the crime of adultery have been sentenced to stoning.9 In its response to the Special Rapporteur’s report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/31/69), the Government notes that that criminalization of adultery is consistent with its interpretation of Islamic law and that stoning is an effective deterrent. On 7 July 2016, the Government also asserted that the judiciary had converted these sentences to other punishments and that no stoning sentences had been carried out in the country in recent years.10
14. Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran that became effective in June 2015 now require that all death sentences be reviewed by the Supreme Court (ibid., para. 25). These changes annul article 32 of the Anti-Narcotics Law, which authorized the country’s Prosecutor General to fast-track and confirm death sentences for drug-related offences adjudicated by revolutionary courts. On 7 December 2015, the Supreme Court issued a ruling requiring all revolutionary courts to refer drug-related death sentences to it for review.11
15. However, the Special Rapporteur continues to receive information indicating that violations of due process rights, including the right to appeal death sentences, remain problematic in drug-related cases.12 In April 2016, for example, prison authorities in the northern city of Rasht executed Rashid Kouhi, who was convicted of a non-violent drug-trafficking offence in the absence of review by the Supreme Court, as required by law.13 Human rights groups reported that Mr. Kouhi did not receive adequate legal assistance in requesting an appeal to the Supreme Court and that his requests for clemency were rejected. Mr. Kouhi was also reportedly deprived of access to a lawyer during his interrogation and met with a pro bono State-appointed lawyer for the first time during his trial.14
16. In December 2015, 70 members of parliament presented a bill that, if approved by the legislature and the Guardian Council, would reduce the punishment for non-violent drug-related crimes from death to life imprisonment. On 11 January 2016, the bill was introduced on the main floor of the parliament for review.15 It is not known whether the apparent drop in the number of executions during the first six months of 2016 is directly related to the Government’s increasing sensitivity to drug-related executions or the result of newly implemented and pending legislation.


  1. 9  See (in Persian).
  2. 10  Reply of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to a communication dated 20 January
  3. 11  See (in Persian).
  4. 12  See
  5. 13  See (in Persian).
  6. 14  See
  7. 15  See (in Persian).

    B. Executions of juveniles
    17. The Special Rapporteur notes with great concern that under articles 146 and 147 of the Islamic Penal Code, the Islamic Republic of Iran retains the death penalty for boys of at least 15 lunar years of age and girls of at least 9 lunar years.
    18. On 12 January 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded its review of the implementation by the Islamic Republic of Iran of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In its concluding observations (CRC/C/IRN/CO/3-4), the Committee expressed great concern about the ongoing execution of juveniles and called on the Government to withdraw reservations that sanction judicial disregard of provisions of the Convention. They also called on the Government to define juveniles as anyone under the age of 18, in line with Convention standards, and to raise the age of criminal responsibility for girls so that there is no discrimination between boys and girls. In its response, the Government continues to defend its use of a general reservation to the Convention based on its “religious teachings and culture”.
    19. Amendments to the Islamic Penal Code in 2013 repealed capital punishment for juveniles found guilty of committing drug-related offences and now require a judge to determine whether these defendants understood the consequences of their actions at the time they committed non-drug-related capital offences. In January 2015, the Supreme Court issued a ruling requiring all courts to apply the new amendment retroactively for cases adjudicated prior to 2013 if a juvenile defendant petitions for an appeal.16
    20. The Special Rapporteur notes with great concern that, notwithstanding these reforms, the number of executions of juvenile offenders has actually increased during the past few years. He also continues to receive reports maintaining that some juvenile offenders have been denied the right to appellate review, that the Supreme Court has rejected several petitions for retrial and that it confirmed the death sentences of at least six juvenile offenders.17 The Special Rapporteur has also received reports suggesting that the criteria used by courts to assess mental capacity vary widely and are inconsistently applied throughout the country.18 The Government rejects this allegation, and in its response asserts that amendments to the Islamic Penal Code have resulted in a reduction in the number of juvenile executions this year.
    21. At least one confirmed execution of a juvenile had reportedly been carried out as of the date of drafting of the present report and four juvenile executions took place in 2015.19 At least 73 juvenile offenders were reportedly executed between 2005 and 2015 and some 160 others were reportedly awaiting execution as of January 2016.20 In its response, the Government notes that in all cases of retributive justice for juvenile offenders, its fundamental policy is to encourage reconciliation between the perpetrators’ and victims’ families in lieu of the death penalty. It also notes that executions of juvenile offenders are not carried out until the perpetrators reach 18 years of age.


    1. 16  See (in Persian).
    2. 17  See
    3. 18  Ibid.
    4. 19  See
    5. 20  Ibid

      C. Right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
      22. The Special Rapporteur continued to receive reports alleging the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment during the reporting period. Such treatment includes the continued use of amputations,21 blinding and flogging as a form of punishment, reliance on physical and mental torture or ill- treatment to coerce confessions (mostly during pretrial detention) and the denial of access to proper and necessary medical treatment for detainees. Human rights groups have documented at least one amputation22 and several floggings during the reporting period.23
      23. In its response, the Government rejects the notion that amputations and floggings amount to torture and maintains that they are effective deterrents to criminal activity. It also reports that 4,332 complaints alleging rights violations were submitted in the past four years, including torture and ill-treatment, and that “only a small percentage” warranted action. No specific information is provided regarding prosecutions and/or convictions of individuals alleged to be involved in the torture or ill-treatment of detainees.
      24. In early 2016, a spokesperson for the judiciary in Qazvin province announced that the authorities had arrested 35 young women and men who were attending a graduation party. He reported that all those attending the event had been convicted and sentenced to 99 lashes each, because they were “half-naked while consuming alcohol and engaging in acts incompatible with chastity which disturbed the public opinion”, and that the sentences were carried out promptly the same day.24
      25. Some 17 miners in Azarbayjan-e Gharbi province were reportedly flogged for protesting against the firing of hundreds of colleagues pursuant to two court rulings in Takab sentencing the miners to between 30 and 100 lashes.25 In its response, the Government maintains that the workers were flogged as the result of a lawsuit filed by the mining company, which accused the workers of blocking the entrance to the mine, insulting or threatening the mine’s guard and resorting to violence, not because the workers had exercised their rights to association or assembly. The Government also reports that nine individuals received between 30 and 50 lashes as punishment for their crimes.
      26. In May 2016, the mother of journalist Afarin Chitsaz, who was arrested and accused of colluding with foreign Governments, announced that interrogators had blindfolded and beaten her daughter to coerce a confession.26 Security officials arrested Ms. Chitsaz, along with several colleagues, on 2 November 2015 and detained her incommunicado for more than a month. In its response, the Government notes that the courts sentenced Ms. Chitsaz to two years’ imprisonment and a two-year ban on journalistic activities upon release.

      21 Articles 217-288 of the Islamic Penal Code.
      22 See (in Persian). 23 See, e.g., (in Persian). 24 Ibid.
      25 See (in Persian).
      26 See

      Continuation next..... 

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