Iran

Iran is second only to China in the number of executions it carries out – regularly killing hundreds every year (many in public)] Currently the death penalty can be given for murder; armed robbery; drug trafficking; kidnapping; rape; paedophilia; homosexuality; espionage; terrorism; apostasy (no recorded executions)

Iran suspends death penalty for some drug crimes, potentially sparing thousands on death row

January, 01.10.2018

Iran has lifted the death penalty for certain nonviolent drug offenses, relaxing some of the world’s harshest laws on drug crimes and potentially sparing the lives of thousands of death row inmates.

An amended narcotics law directs judges to suspend executions for 5,000 people convicted of drug-related offenses and review their cases, Mizan news agency, the mouthpiece of Iran’s judiciary, reported Wednesday.

Most of the 5,000 convicts would have their punishments “converted to life sentences,” Mohammad Ali Esfanani, assistant judge of the Iranian Supreme Court, told state media.

A spokesman for the judiciary committee of Iran’s Parliament, Hasan Nourouzi, told the Jam-e-Jam daily newspaper that violent drug offenders — including those who had committed murder in the course of drug crimes — would still be subject to the death penalty if convicted.

But the moratorium on executions for those found guilty of nonviolent crimes — such as drug smuggling — is a victory for reformists and human rights advocates who fought for years to change Iran’s draconian drug laws. Proponents of the changes say that 90% of those imprisoned on drug convictions are first-time offenders younger than 30 years old.

The amended law had been in the works for more than two years, ever since a majority of Iran’s 290 lawmakers said they endorsed a moratorium. After parliament approved the bill, it won approval from Iran’s all-powerful Guardian Council, a conservative body made up of Islamic jurists and theologians.

Hard-liners had long opposed the changes, but the influence of moderates and reformists in parliament, and a rising backlash against executions, has contributed to a softening stance.

Lawmakers have raised the limits on the amounts of drugs one can possess before it becomes a capital offense. An earlier law provided for the death penalty if someone was caught with an ounce of cocaine; the new limit is 4.4 pounds.

Iran is in the grip of a terrible drug abuse problem, mainly driven by easy access to cheap and plentiful narcotics, especially opium, coming over the border from Afghanistan. Health officials say there are more than 2 million drug addicts in a country of 80 million, but doctors say the actual figure is higher.

Iran puts more convicts to death per capita than any country in the world, most for drug crimes. Amnesty International says that since 1988, Iran has executed, usually by hanging, approximately 10,000 people for drug-related offenses.

“If implemented properly, this long-overdue reform will spare hundreds from the gallows, but that should be just the start,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement.

“The Iranian authorities must stop using the death penalty for drug-related offenses with a view to eventually abolishing it for all crimes.”

Saleh Nikbakht, an Iranian human rights lawyer, said that by making the new law retroactive, Iranian authorities could spare the lives of thousands.

“Now Iran won’t be the second country in the world, after China, for most executions,” Nikbakht said. “We will have a much lower ranking and that is good news.”

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Why Iran Quietly Abolished Death Penalty For Some Drug Crimes

November 14,2017

Iran has some of the toughest antidrug laws in the world, with authorities handing out the death sentence to offenders trafficking or possessing as little as 30 grams of hard drugs like heroin or cocaine.

So it was a major turnaround when the parliament and the Guardians Council, the powerful clerical body that must approve all proposed legislation, abolished the death penalty for some drug-related crimes.

The amendments to the law, which came into effect on November 14, increase the threshold for the use of the death penalty. Capital punishment is reserved for those charged with trafficking 2 kilograms of hard drugs or more than 50 kilograms of cannabis or opium. The death sentence still applies for repeat offenders and lethal drug-related offences.

The changes to the decades-old laws — expected to curb the number of executions in the Islamic republic, which has one of the highest rates of capital punishment in the world — have been driven by both international and domestic factors.

‘Political Win’

President Hassan Rohani, a relative moderate who is early in his second term, has pledged to bring about a general “openness” in Iran, but his efforts to open up political and social space have been contained by hard-liners in the clerical system: the supreme leader, the judiciary, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

“The Rohani government wants to show some movement on social and political issues, and so it has pushed the drugs case,” says Scott Lucas, an Iran specialist at Birmingham University in Britain and editor of the EA World View website. “With Rohani being constrained on so many political and social questions, it raised the incentive to give him a political win.”

Ali Vaez, a senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG), says the move is a “volte-face” and could give Iran an image boost abroad, where it has been accused by Washington of egregious rights violations and by the United States and Mideast rivals of sponsoring terrorism, and has come under pressure over its ballistic-missile program.

“The government would surely welcome any measure that could counter the broad campaign by Iran’s adversaries to further demonize it,” Vaez says.

Domestic Critics

There have been growing calls in Iran to ease the use of capital punishment for drug-related offenses. Critics say the extensive use of the death penalty — including frequent mass hangings that the public is encouraged to attend — has done little to stop drug use and trafficking in the country, which is on a major transit route for drugs smuggled from Afghanistan.

“[There’s a] realization by the Iranian authorities that executions have not been an effective solution to drug trafficking,” says researcher Tara Sepehri Far of Human Rights Watch (HRW), which opposes the death penalty. “Several Iranian officials have also spoken about the negative impact of executions on families.”

In November 2016, Hassan Nowruzi, a spokesman for the parliament’s Judicial Committee, said 5,000 people were on death row for drug-related offenses, the majority of them aged 20-30. He said most were first-time offenders.

A month earlier, more than 150 lawmakers in the 290-member legislature called for a halt to the execution of petty drug traffickers. Lawmakers also suggested that capital punishment should be abolished for those who become involved in drug trafficking out of desperation or poverty.

In August, Mohammad Baqer Olfat, the deputy head of the judiciary’s department for social affairs, said the death penalty had not deterred drug trafficking; in fact, he said, it was on the rise. Rather than the death penalty, he suggested, traffickers should be given long prison terms with hard labor.

International Pressure

Iran has been under mounting international pressure to curb its executions. Human rights groups say Iran executed at least 567 people in 2016 and nearly 1,000 in 2015, including a number of migrants from Afghanistan, where the majority of illicit drugs come into Iran. Iranian officials said 70 percent of all executions in the country were for drug-related offenses.

While HRW’s Far says it is “disappointing” that the changes do not abolish the death penalty for all nonviolent drug offenses, the move is a “step in the right direction that can potentially save hundreds from death row.”

“The sustained international pressure by human rights organizations and UN bodies about the alarming rate of executions in [Iran] has definitely had an impact,” Far added.

Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International (AI), which is staunchly anti-death-penalty, said that although the changes “may contribute to a drop in the number of executions, it will still condemn scores of people every year to the gallows for offenses that must never attract the death penalty under international law.”

Afghan officials and human rights groups have been among the most vocal in calling for reform to Iran’s antidrug laws. Thousands of Afghans involved in the illicit narcotics trade have ended up in Iranian prisons and have been executed. Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, which is used to make heroin, and Iran is a major transit route for the drug to western Asia and Europe.

Iran: 16 executions in 3 days

The inhuman mullahs’ regime in Iran hanged 16 prisoners in various cities on August 26, 27 and 29.
On August 26, in addition to the criminal execution of political prisoner Mr. Behrouz Alkhani in Urumia Prison, twelve other prisoners were collectively hanged in prisons in Kermanshah and Urumia. The Iranian regime has so far refrained from publishing information on those executed.
On August 27, Jamal Ja’afari, from the city of Sanadaj, was hanged after suffering four years imprisonment in this city. Similarly, on August 29, two prisoners were hanged in prisons in Bandar Abbas and Khorramabad. Abdollah Zarei, 25, who was hanged in Bandar Abbas was from Minab County, Hormozgan Province. A 23-year-old prisoner was also transferred to solitary confinement along with Zarei in preparation for execution, but there is no news about his fate.
These executions that demonstrate the regime’s fear of growing social protests are merely a minute section of the nationwide suppression of the Iranian people that is being implemented in an escalating manner during Rouhani’s tenure, the so-called “moderate” president of the Iranian regime. The number of these executions has now surpassed 2000 during Rouhani’s presidency.
The silence and inaction of the international community in the face of the collective executions by the mullahs, concurrent with visits by senior European officials to Iran to pave the way for trade contracts with the mullahs’ inhuman and anti-Iranian regime is tantamount to encouraging this regime to continue with its crimes and collaboration with this regime.

 

Iran regime continues spate of executions

NCRI – Iran’s fundamentalist regime on Thursday hanged a man in the central prison of Sanandaj, western Iran.
The man, identified as Jamal Jaafari, had been imprisoned for four years. He was accused of murder.
Six prisoners, including political prisoner Behrouz Alkhani, were hanged in Orumieh Prison, western Iran on Wednesday.
On Monday, the mullahs’ regime hanged a 25-year-old prisoner identified as Hossein Karimi in Bandar Abbas Prison, southern Iran. He was accused of a drugs related charge.
The regime’s prosecutor in Mazandaran Province, northern Iran, on Monday said a prisoner, only identified by the initials R.F., was hanged in Sari Prison on Sunday.
A statement by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on August 5 said: “Iran has reportedly executed more than 600 individuals so far this year. Last year, at least 753 people were executed in the country.”
Source: NCRI, August 27, 2015

 

Iran executes political prisoner in spite of international pleas

Behrouz Alkhani, a 30 year old political prisoner in Iran, was executed on Tuesday despite international calls for a stay in execution and retrial, following an allegedly unfair trail. The execution came even as Alkhani awaited a Supreme Court appeal.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran has reported that a Kurdish political prisoner was executed by the Iranian government. The NCRI is one of the most prominent and vocal Iranian opposition groups and has repeatedly denounced capital punishment.

Alkhani, who is of Kurdish descent, was first arrested in January of 2010 in Northwestern Iran and held for more than a year without access to either his family or a lawyer. He was convicted by a Revolutionary Court of charges for collaborating with the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan and “enmity against God.” Allegedly, Alkhani participated in the assassination of a local Iranian Prosecutor.

NCRI has also reported that more than 80 protesters gathered outside of central prison of Orumieh, in western Iran, where the execution was scheduled to take place. NCRI claims that the protesters, who were demanding a halt to the execution, were attacked by prison guards and anti-riot police. Many of those gathered were family members of Alkhani and included women and children

Aklhani’s immediate family members were granted a last visit and informed of the impending execution.

Amnesty International also called for a halt to the execution, noting that Alkhani was still awaiting the outcome of his Supreme Court appeal. The organization also argued that Alkhani was given a “grossly unfair” trial, and that he was tortured and poorly treated while in custody.

In a released statement, Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International said, “the Iranian authorities must urgently halt Behrouz Alkhani’s execution. Carrying out a death sentence while a prisoner is awaiting the outcome of his appeal is a serious violation of both Iranian and international law, and is an affront to justice.”

Iran trails only China in terms of the number of people executed per year.

At Least 3 Prisoners Executed in Northern Iran

2 prisoners charged with murder were hanged to death in Rasht’s Lakan Prison, one prisoner was hanged in Ardebil Central Prison on a drug related charge.
2 prisoners charged with murder (identified as M.M., 37 years old, and A.M., 33 years old) were hanged to death in Rasht’s Lakan Prison on the morning of Saturday August 23, reports the Justice Department in the province of Gilan.
An informed source, who has requested to be anonymous, says there were a total of 3 prisoners who were hanged to death in Lakan Prison on Saturday. “One of the prisoners’ name is Asghar Mohammadi,” says the source.
In Ardabil Central Prison one prisoner (identified as Hamed Madeh Moghadar) was hanged to death on Saturday for possessing more than 580 grams of crystal meth, according to the Press Department of Ardebil’s Judiciary.
The prisoner was reportedly issued the death penalty by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in the province of Ardabil.
Source: Iran Human Rights, August 24, 2015

Pakistan: Hangman shares his thoughts

An executioner has revealed that his mind is a perfect blank when he takes the life of another human being.
Hangman Sabir Massih said he never feels anything when he ties the noose around the neck of a prisoner and pulls the lever on a trapdoor, sealing their fate.
“I don’t think about them at all,” he told BBC correspondent Shaimaa Khalil. “For me, it’s a technical thing. We have 3 minutes flat to get this done, so I try to do it as quickly as possible. I want to get there on time, I want to go in and out in the time that’s allocated and I want to do the job right.”
The Pakistani’s relatives have been in the business of death for generations. His father, uncles, grandfather and great-grandfather were all hangmen before him. “It’s just part of our family,” he said.
Pakistan lifted a 7-year moratorium on the death penalty last year after massacre of 150 students at a school in Peshawar by Taliban militants. More than 200 death-row inmates have been hanged in the past 8 months, and the country now has one of the highest execution rates in the world, alongside Iran, Saudi Arabia and China.
Massih told the reporter that even the very 1st time he took a life, he was calm. “I had only seen 1 hanging before, that was done by my father,” he said. “It was him who taught me at home how to tie a noose properly.
“The superintendent of the jail reassured me and said that there is no reason to get confused or to be anxious. He gave me the signal, I pulled the lever and opened the trap. It was only after I looked that I saw the person hanging. It was a matter of seconds.”
Massih’s real passion is breeding roosters for cock fighting, and he reserves his emotion for the birds. “This is what I think about when I go home,” he said.
Reporter Khalil told Public Radio International that she suspected his complete detachment was a coping mechanism, and he had to maintain a matter-of-fact attitude to the grisly job.
He said prisoners sometimes begged for forgiveness, and others could hardly walk to the gallows. In one case, two convicted militants hugged each other before their joint execution, one saying he could already “smell paradise”. Regardless, Massih would be waiting silently, with a black cloth to slip over their heads and the noose in his hands.
This hangman is not the strange, solitary figure we might imagine. He has the support of his friends and the community, many of whom are grateful for the return of the death penalty.
This month Shafqat Hussain, who was convicted of murdering a child, was one of those executed, and many believed justice was being served. Hussain was only 14 when he was convicted, and human rights groups say he was tortured into confessing, but their protests were brushed aside.
Massih does not feel righteous, but sees death as his duty and the job he is paid to do. At the end of the day, he rushes home to his roosters, putting his deadly day’s work out of his head.
Source: news.com.au, August 19, 2015

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