Has International Human Rights Law an impact on the death penalty in Iran?
Table of Contents
Part 1: the death penalty under International Law
Human Rights ……………………………………………………………………………………….4
International Community and the death penalty ………………………………………..4
Human Rights Organisations and international law ……………………………………5
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since 1966 ……………………5
Limitation the death penalty by International law ……………………………………..7
Protocol on the death penalty ……………………………………………………………….8
Part 2: the death penalty in Iran and International Law
History of the death penalty in Iran (violation of human rights)……….. ……….. 9
The increasing of the death penalty in Iran ……………………………………………..10
Iran and International Human Rights Law……………………….. …………………….11
Part 3: the death penalty in Iran and International Law
The Human Rights defender …………………………………………………………………11
The positions of other International organisations on the death penalty…..12
Court system in Iran …………………………………………………………………………..13
Additional Reading ……………………………………………………………………………..17
The death penalty is a punishment for the accused in Iran, in which capital punishment is recognised by the law of the Iranian Constitution. Where various courts of Iran such as a Revolutionary Court, military, and criminal courts are giving a decision against any offenders, mainly drug trade and activists. The death penalty in Iran has a long history in the Iranian Constitution law, such as the previous regime and the current regime (Islamic Republic of Iran). However, the death penalty has massively increased during the current regime, particularly since Ahmadinejad took office in Iran in 2005.
In other words, the report aims to outline the status of the death penalty under International law, and how International Human Rights Law can have an impact on the death penalty in Iran. Therefore, the report has three primary goals. First, it seeks to discuss how International Human Rights Law can deal with the death penalty in general, and notes that while the death penalty is not yet prohibited under International law, its abolition is strongly encouraged and it may only be imposed within very strict limitations. Therefore, the report argues the UN duty to deal with capital punishment because the UN has a mechanism to support human rights. Moreover, the report will then argue how the UN Conventions, such as International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and also human rights organisations can have an impact on decreasing the death penalty in the country like Iran through different protocols alongside International law protocols.
Besides, the report seeks to discuss the history of the death penalty in Iran, particularly since the Islamic Republic took power in 1979. The report also examines how International Human Rights Law can have an impact on the death penalty in Iran in particular. Thirdly, the report will focus on the Al-hiwar cultural organisation as the human rights defenders in Iran, who sentenced to the death penalty. The report considers the position of other international organisations that put Iran under pressure to decrease or limit the death penalty. The report finally discusses the court system in Iran through analysing with International Human Rights Law.
Part 1: the death penalty under International Law
The primary objective of establishing the UN in 1945 was to protect people, supporting democracy and spreading peace in the world. Therefore, human rights issue is a primary duty for the UN to protect people in the world from any human rights violations such as torture and death penalty; and help people to achieve their own basic ”civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights”. In fact, the Charter of the United Nations to encourage all nations in the world to respect human rights is just to prevent any particular people of violating another group of people. Therefore, in 1948, the General Assembly of the UN was passed the new charter that called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of human ambition as whole.
Human Rights, rights and liberties are realisable to each person to protect safeguard individuals and groups against any discriminatory grounds of race, age or sex. The Conventions, Commissions and treaties that all created by the UN would give people a chance of reaching their rights. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are all actively working for human rights to support peace, security and promote genuine democracy in the world. In which many Articles belong to those Conventions and Commissions are mentioned against the death penalty, for instance, in December 1989, the major aim of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant Assembly is working toward quashing the death penalty once and for all. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also play a significant role in supporting abolishing the death penalty, although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not a binding treaty (William A. Schabas, 2002).
International Community and the death penalty
International Community’s goal is to limit the death penalty, but International Community has not urged the countries to abolish the death penalty completely. International Community always put the countries under pressure to abolish capital punishments against the juvenile and stop capital punishment against less serious crime.
In addition, during the debates in the ‘Third Committee of the General Assembly’, a new phrase was added to Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the sentence was focusing on ‘the right to life for citizens’. This right was later submitted by Uruguay and Colombia that called for the abolition of the death penalty. Therefore, a majority of states have agreed to abolish capital punishment for juveniles under 18, but they are implementing the death penalty against other groups of people (William A. Schabas, 2002).
According to the United Nations expert committee, Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 9 of the Covenant was asking for fair detain and limitation of the death penalty. However, there is nothing to suggest abolishing of the death penalty. Even if the other provisions of Article 6 offer more specific constraints, these were not meant to be exhaustive, and there will be cases where execution is consistent with paragraphs 2, 4, 5 and 6, and yet where it is also ‘arbitrary’ juveniles.
The articles are also focusing on the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment of the prisoners who may face the death penalty. Furthermore, in General Comment that issues on 7 April 1992, International Law focused on ”the death penalty for most series crimes. It means that the capital punishment for the series crimes does not need to be restricted in agreement with Article 6 of the Committee. However, the death sentenced should not affect the person to face physical and mental problems”. In which Charles Ng argued that use of the gas chamber might expose the person to ”torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment”, in the breach of Article 7 of the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights.
Human Rights Organisations and International Law
As a matter of fact, ”there is correlation between the Economic and Social Council with non-governmental organisations that are working against the death penalty in the world” (Article 71: UNHCR). For instance, by 2008 such arrangements had been made with over 3,000 NGOs in regards to work for abolishing capital punishments. In addition, Human Rights organisations, mainly NGOs have more freedom to put governments under pressure by campaigns and other activities, however on the other hand, International law can only focus on limitation or decreasing the death penalty rather than abolishing. According to the UN General Assembly, in 1989, the world should prepare to abolish the death penalty. Therefore, NGOs can promote a leading role in campaigning against the death penalty.
Furthermore, there is no doubt about that the countries that decided to abolish the death penalty through encouraging by International human rights organisations have amounted in compared with the past few years. However, on the other hand, the number of people who were executed in the countries that are using the death penalty for offenders have soared in compared with the previous years. It means that the International Human Rights Organisations that work for abolishing the death penalty, on the one hand, were successful in encouraging countries to abolish capital punishments, but, on the other hand, they were unsuccessful to convince other countries to abolish or even decrease the death penalty against offenders such as children and also less serious crimes.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since 1966
The right to life
To be known that the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR) or any other virtually universal international treaty are not officially outlawed the death penalty, a number of instruments exist that in force with fewer states parties are striving to abolish capital punishment. Similarly, international customary law does not prohibit the death penalty at the current time, but custom is rapidly changing towards a position in favour of worldwide abolition.
At the international level, the UN Conventions offer treaty provision relating to the death penalty such as Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights just to limit the capital punishment in different countries. However, from 1947 to 1966, only ten countries had quashed the death penalty, but extensive debate nonetheless took place as to its status under the covenant. The United Nations also concerned of the increasing extrajudicial executions around the world. In 1984, the Human Rights Committee adopted General Comment No.14, on the right to life and Article 6, in which it confirmed that ”the International Community does not work seriously to limit the capital punishment under the idea of the right to life, even in time of public emergency”.
Article 6 of the ICCPR states that ”every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life”.
The article also states that ”in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court”.
In addition, the article also states that ”anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence”. ”Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women”.
It is clear from this article that there are a number of strict limitation on the imposition of the death penalty, including ”Right to a fair trial before the imposition of the death penalty; limitation of the death penalty to only the most serious crimes; prohibition against imposing the death penalty when other ICCPR rights have been violated; prohibition against retroactive imposition of the death penalty; right to seek pardon or commutation of a death penalty sentence; prohibition against the execution of persons who were under the age of eighteen at the time the offence was committed; and prohibition against the execution of pregnant women”.
Furthermore, Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that ”all people have the right to access human treatment for their dignity”. It means that all people have an opportunity to access facilities through the article to not be tortured and executed without accessing to a fair trial. It should be self-evident that this should apply in particular to those who are jailed in solitary confinement while facing the prospect of execution. In fact, there is no doubt about that having a long process for execution in some countries may help to avoid the death penalty somehow like giving an opportunity to the offenders to find a way to not be executed.
‘Arbitrarily deprived’ – the right to a fair trial
In 1996, the Economic and Social Council encouraged all member states to offer a fair trial and independent judiciary to people who may have been facing capital punishment, as mentioned in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Economic and Social Council also urged countries to offer interpreter for people who cannot speak the official language for each country during the court to give the offenders an opportunity to a defence of themselves in the court (Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle;2008).
Safeguard 8 of the ”Safeguard Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty”, adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council in 1984, states that ”the death penalty against a person who is waiting for its appeal or pardon cannot be carried out”. It means that Safeguard 8 of the Committee also have an idea to limit the capital punishment. This position was further enforced by the UN Commission on Human Rights in resolution 2005/59, adopted on 20 April 2005, which urged all states should not ”carry out the capital punishment against a person who does not access an international or national level of the trial”. Therefore, the UN HRC has made clear that in various cases, the execution of a prisoner, when the sentence has not approved by the Supreme Court, is a violation of Article 6 of that Covenant.
Limitation the death penalty by the International Law
Whilst the restriction of deploying the death penalty to the most serious offences is an established principle of international law, it lacks transparent definition and agreement. In 1984, the Economic and Social Council published the Safeguards Guaranteeing the Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty, which place a stress that the most serious crimes should not go beyond systematic crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences. While these Safeguards are not legally binding, they were approved by UN General Assembly, demonstrating an unwavering international support. In a related case, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has stated that the death penalty should be eradicated for economic crimes, drug-related offences, victimless offences, and actions associated with ethical values encompassing adultery, prostitution, and sexual orientation. However interpreted, it is apparent that this provision restricts the application of the death penalty to a very limited number of crimes. As a Consequence, under international law, ”capital punishment must solely be activated as an exceptional measure, carried out under strict conditions”.
The report provides an example of how International Human Rights Law had an impact on encouraging 24 countries to abolish the death penalty from 1950s to 1988 under the right of life or stopping violation of human rights to one or more crimes such as ”espionage, terrorism, sabotage, counter-revolutionary activities, political and human rights activities, dangerous for national security, organising or promoting the secession against regimes or against the state as a whole” (Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle;2008).
On the other hand, the capital punishment is upholding as a punish for people who are sealing drugs in countries such as China, Iran, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and so on. Adultery and sodomy in Iran, religious offences such as apostasy in Iran and blasphemy in Pakistan, enmity against God in Iran, with biased and unfair trials verifying secret execution (Iran, China, Mongolia and Belarus) caused many people to lose their lives as a result (Amnesty International, 2011).
Amnesty International in 2011 confirmed that around 676 people have been executed in at least 20 countries, compared with 527 in 2010, mainly in country like ”Iran”. However, the number of people who were executed in China in 2011 does not include the 676 people who were executed in 2011. Amnesty International also argued that around 1,923 people were sentenced to the capital punishment in 63 countries in 2011, in which the number in 2010 was 2,024 people. Overall, 18,750 people were under death sentence in 2011. However, there are a massive number of executions in Iran have been carried out in public.
Protocol on the death penalty
International human rights law has several protocols to limit the death penalty through activating Articles that aim at abolishing or imposing a limitation on the death penalty. There are other protocols that focus on a prohibition of torture, in which many people often die under torture or purportedly were force to confess by torture. Therefore, the UN Conventions urge to prohibit confessions under torture, in which will make many people face capital punishments. Therefore, Article 1,2 and 4 of the Convention against torture and Other cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984 provide that ”all state countries should abolish torture” (Philip Alston, Ryan Goodman;2013).
On the other hand, there are a considerable number of ideas believe that execution resembles torture because torture has a mutual impact on mental and physical of the prisoners who might be sentenced to the death penalty. It means that under Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture, torture is defined as ”any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally exercised on a person for such purposes as punishing him/her for a crime that he/she has committed”, however it specifically excludes ”pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions”, thereby not prohibiting the death penalty as it applied in accordance with the law. Given that fact, that paralleling torture with the death penalty raises a number of questions about the logic of current international law, ”as threatening to kill a prisoner may be illegal, but the sentencing and actual execution of a convicted detainee may be lawful”.
As well as to the limitations mentioned above, the ICCPR urges States alongside its relevant institutions to set up campaigns to mobilize active awareness among the communities to abrogate the death penalty. The Human Rights Committee, in this case, repeatedly has affirmed that the ICCPR ‘strongly suggests that abolition is desirable’. However, Article 6 does not make abolition mandatory under international law.
In the 1980s, three international instruments completely abolishing the death penalty were drafted. At great acceleration, the world ascending toward ending the capital punishment, and abolitionist states outnumbered retentionist states as early as the mid-1990s. Progress continues to this day, with an average of three countries per year abolishing the death penalty throughout the last decade (Philip Alston, Ryan Goodman; 2013).
Rights to Access to Court
The rights to equal access to justice are one of the cornerstones of any legal system based on the rule of law, in which the UN protocols against the death penalty by accessing a fair trial. It is enshrined in Article 14(1) CCPR and, on the regional level, in Article 6(1) ECHR, and Article 8(1) ACHR. For example, Article 11 of the Convention offer people to have a ”fair trial for both civil and criminal matters’’ enunciates a very important right, for the implementation of all other rights depends upon the proper administration of justice.
International Courts and Tribunals
International law in Safeguard No.4 is aiming to abolish the death penalty for people who sentenced to the capital punishment without facing clear and convincing evidence”. It means that there is a connection between the accessing high level of court and tribunals with Safeguard No.4, in which has mentioned that the death penalty must not carry out without having strong evidence (Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle;2008). In addition, there are other ways to control the death penalty by the Security Council, such as intervention through sanction against people who are violating human rights like the death penalty in Iran, and torturing people, or military action like the military action in Libya to stop human rights violations against people. For instance, military action against Iran to stop human rights violations in Al-Ahwaz must be carrying out.
Part 2: the death penalty in Iran and International law
History of the death penalty in Iran (violation of human rights)
The capital punishment in Iran is recognised by the law of the Iranian Constitution. Where the considerable number of people in Iran sentenced to the death penalty for different crimes or even for their activity, in which the large number of them are facing violation of human rights in the Iranian prisons before the execution. However, the tragedy of killing tens of thousands of activists in 1988 alongside the death penalty against political activists, mainly Ahwazi were shocked the world, mainly international human rights organisations that work to abolish or limit the death penalty for less serious crimes (Geoffrey Robertson, 2010).
In Iran, the large numbers of people also kill under torture, which usually their names do not mention on the lists of people who execute by the Iranian authorities. The prisoners in Iran usually transport to a detention that mainly belong to the security services. Therefore, the vast majority of inmates often face torture by the security services. The type of torture that usually claim the people’s lives can be beatings, immersion in excrement, near-asphyxiation, rape, burning by Iron, and electric shocks. However, there are other ways for torturing people, which is more sophisticated ways for torturing such as ”deprivation of light, deprivation of sleep, general disorientation, threats of mutilation or death, mock execution, and most powerful of all in many cases, the threat that physical abuses will be extended to persons close to the prisoner”, although International Law in Article 10 of ICCPR and Article 1,2,4 of the Convention Against Torture, and Article 6 of the ICCPR urged the countries to not torture the prisoners (Sir Nigel Rodley, Matt Pollard;2009).
The increasing of the death penalty in Iran
Each year there have been documented reports of death by stoning in Iran, which is a public form of execution. For example, in 2006 a man and a woman were stoned to death in the Middle of the night in a cemetery in the north-eastern city of Mashhad. Both were accused of murdering the women’s husband. During the height of the Iranian revolution, bodies were left hanging in public view, sometimes at the site of the crime. This practice has continued. For example, in July 2005 and December 2006 three young men, including two juveniles aged under 18, were publicly hanged, two for sexual assault on a 13 year-old boy and one for murder. Overall, the Iranian authorities used the death penalty against over 100 juvenile that 9 of them were girls (Amnesty International, 2010). However, International law in Article 6 of ICCPR stats that the death penalty should not carried out against persons below eighteen years of age.
The death penalty in Iran has reached a catastrophic situation. It means that the death penalty in Iran has been increased compared with the previous years, although International law works to limit or decrease the death penalty. For instance, the death penalty during the Ahmadinejad period was 314 people in 2012 which does not include the number of people who were executed in the secret detention or killed under torture (Amnesty International, 2012). However, HARANA, the human rights organisation stated that the number of people who were executed in 2012 was around 529 people in which 61 executions carried out in public, 76% of the executions were due to drug-related, 11% due to rape, 5% due to murder, and 8% were included political and civil activists. HARANA also stated that around 4,615 people were arrested and tortured due to their political, cultural, social and human rights activity.
It means that the Iranian authorities always reject the recommendations of the International Community and International Human Rights law to limit the death penalty, in which makes Iran be the second country that use capital punishment after China. For example, Amnesty International claims that the number of people who were executed in 2013 was reached 369, but HARANA stated that the fact number is 587. Moreover, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for Iran case, Dr. Ahmad Shaheed pointed out that the number of death penalty in Iran during new presidents has increased widely, in which 700 people were recorded as died because of the death penalty issue from 2013 to 2014, and 1000 have been executed from 2014 to 2015. However, Amnesty International and International Human Rights Organisations such as Harana stated that 2000 people have been executed from 2014 to 2015.
Dr. Ahmad Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur of Human Rights in March 2016 stated that Iran have been executed 966 people in whole 2015, which 73 of them were under 18 years of age. This number is a massive record of the death issue in Iran since 1989.
Iran and International Human Rights law
The International Community in Article 6 of the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights urged the countries to limit the death penalty, and also abolish capital punishment against children less than 18 year of age. However, Iran always refused the recommendation that urged to limit or abolish the death penalty against less serious crimes and also against children less than 18 years of age. Iran claims that the vast majority of offenders who sentenced to death row are related to a drug dealer, armed robbery, and murder, but there is considerable number of people were executed on the charge of political, social, cultural and human rights activity.
The authorities in Iran have also executed the large number of people because of their religion and their opinion. For instance, 30 people were executed in January 2010 on the charge of enmity of God and corruption on the earth in which Iran alongside 6 other countries is using the death penalty in the religion issue in the form of blasphemy or apostasy. In May 2011, the authorities were executed 11 Ahwaz Arab men and a 16 year-old boy in Karun prison on the charge of political activity. Moreover, in September 2012, at least 28 Kurdish in Iran were executed on the charge of dangerous for national security. The vast majority of executions were carried out without accessing to a fair trial that International law in Article 6 and 11 of ICCPR mentioned the countries to offer to people during the court (Human Rights Watch, 2013). Furthermore, due to increasing of violation of human rights in Iran, mainly the death penalty, the European Union through International Law under the right to life has imposed sanctions on 17 Iranian officials, including prominent members of the government and the judiciary who play a key role in serious human rights violations.
Part 3: the death penalty in Iran and International law
The Human Rights defender
The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for Iran Human Rights Report in March 2014 mentioned that there are considerable number of human rights defenders are currently jailed in Iran, in which 51% of the defenders constitute the Ethnic defenders like Ahwazi human rights or political activists, and 10% of other defenders are human rights defenders from throughout Iran, the Special Rapporteur also stated that the large number of the prisoners could not access to interpreter during their trial because many of them cannot speak the official language fluently (Dr. Shaheed, 13 March 2014).
For example, in February 2011, the Iranian security services were arrested the founder of Al-hiwar cultural and human rights organisation in Al-Ahwaz on the charge of the enmity of God, corruption on the earth, and dangerous for security. Al-hiwar or the dialogue organisation was established in 2003 by several Ahwazi Arab young students in the small town south of the Ahwaz capital city, to teach Arabic to Arab students, and defending of Ahwazi human rights and cultural rights. The organisation became popular in whole Al-Ahwaz in which were encouraged people to attend the election in 2003, and were selected all five candidates that were confirmed by the organisation. The organisation also worked hard to improve Arab Identity and culture that were affected by the Iranian Persiansed policy (Justice for Iran, 2013).
The Iranian Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz in July 2012 were sentenced the death penalty against 5 co-founders of the organisation without letting them to access the lawyer, in which it is violation of human rights, and also do not have any connection with International Law which mentioned all countries to give the right to prisoners to have lawyer and face a fair trial. The death row against these men was upheld by the Supreme Court in Tehran in January 2013. The death row caused the Foreign office of the UK and the EU, the UN Secretary, and other International organisations to condemn Iran and urge Iran to give them a fair trial without facing capital punishment (William Hague, The British Foreign Office, 24 August 2012, 2013).
Failure to observe international law, particularly Safeguard 8 by Iran through death penalty issue against Al-Hewar founder because all these men were waiting for their final appeal to stop the death penalty against them. Iran also violated Safeguard 4 because Iranian authorities did not have any evidences against them to prove their activity is danger for Iran security.
The positions of other international organisations on the death penalty
International human rights groups are similarly united in their criticism of the death penalty. Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch and the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations have labelled the death penalty a violation of the right to life and the protection against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Dr. Shaheed in his report in June 2012 stated that there are a large number of people in Iran were executed in the secret detention and the authorities did not include their names on the official reports of the execution’s list, for instance, 249 people were executed in secret detention cells and 421 were officially announced. The Special Rapporteur also mentioned that there were a large number of people were executed on the charge of enmity of God in which this figure is highly concerned the international community.
The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Iran has always expressed his grave concern over the torture, cruel and other ill-treatments against prisoners. The shocking report of the Special Rapporteur of Human Rights was on 28th February 2013 when he gave his report about the prisoner’s situation to the UN. Dr. Shaheed mentioned that 78% of prisoners who the large number of them were sentenced to the death penalty were tortured by the security services before going to the court. It means that the vast majority of those people were forced to confess under torture. The Special Rapporteur of Human Rights pointed out that the human rights situation in Iran is getting worse and worsening in which concerned the International Community. Dr. Shaheed in the later reports in 2014 to 2016 criticised Iran about their policy against activists, which led to increase the death penalty, torture and other violations of human rights in the secret detention.
The Court system in Iran
In Iran, there are several kinds of courts are available to trail; the Revolutionary Court for political, cultural and human rights activists that mainly controlled by the Revolutionary Guard and the Intelligence services in which people cannot access the open trials and also very difficult to access solicitor; and the second court is for offences such as a crime of drugs and so on.
In fact, in Iran, if the accused does not have its own lawyer, the state, according to Mon practice, will give the person temporary lawyer to defence of him/her during the trial, but defence lawyers in this situation cannot intervene in police or court investigations or interrogations without prior permission from the judge. However, according to international law, the accused has the right to access open trial and also have access to a lawyer, but a considerable number of the prisoners in Iran are deprived of accessing this right alongside the right of interpreter if they cannot speak the official language in Iran (Roger Hood, Carolyn Hoyle;2008).
Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Iran also stated that the vast majority of prisoners cannot access a lawyer while they are in the secret detention. For example, a number of interviewees told to Dr. Shaheed that their lawyers only had a chance of accessing them when they were in the court rather than accessing them in the secret detention or the prison. Therefore, this situation made the vast majority of the lawyers to face difficulties to obtain a shred of evidence for their clients. Furthermore, another group of people told to Dr. Shaheed that the court did not allow their lawyers to join the clients in the court, in which they already tortured by the intelligence services by electric shock, severe beatings, rape, and threats to harm the family and friends. Dr. Shaheed also stated that there is another group of people were also forced to make on-camera confession.
However, there is no right of appeal from the Revolutionary Courts in Iran, or from courts dealing with exceptional cases. Some countries, such as Iran, the court allow thirty days or more to the person to make an appeal against the death row decisions. On the other hand, the Government of Iran in 1998 stated that anyone want to do an appeal against death sentenced decision must prove new evidence to show the person is an innocent, but if the evidence is not compelling enough then it paves the way for the Supreme Court to verify the death sentence against the person.
To conclude, the report wants to suggest that International law is openly moving towards disapproving the death penalty and this is continuing apace. The primary human rights treaty, the ICCPR, encourages states to abolish the death penalty, and the Human Rights Committee has supported this encouragement with strong statements promoting abolition. International custom is also becoming increasingly abolitionist, with more states regarding the death penalty as being inconsistent with human rights standards. While the death penalty remains legal at international law at the current time, it is highly likely that progress towards abolition will persist. Arguments in favour of retaining the death penalty often appear to depend on unproven accusations, such as its deterrent effect, or focus solely on the evidence that the decision to abolish or retain capital punishment remains within national sovereignty. Additional arguments relying on religious or cultural grounds appear to be criticised when investigated in-depth, and have not prevented other nations from abolition.
The report also suggests that the death penalty in Iran remains concern. The death penalty against people under the charge of enmity of God, corruption on the earth, dangerous for national security, drug-related, activists, blasphemy and sodomy, and the death penalty against juvenile are concerning International Human Rights organisations and International Community.
The report also suggests that the death penalty in Iran has a long history, particularly since the Islamic Republic took power in Iran in 1979. In which the regime targeted journalists, political, cultural and human rights activists, ethnic activists, religion activists and so on. The report also focused on the human rights organisations, and the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations that have given several reports about violations of human rights in Iran, such as torture and the death penalty in which Iran does not comply International Law protocols to abolish torture and limit the death penalty. For example, Dr. Ahmad Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur of Iran stated that capital punishments and torture against prisoners in Iran has been increased compared with the past, in which Iran always denied the Special Rapporteur reports to the United Nations, and claimed that Iran has respected International law protocols that work against torture.
The report also concludes that International Human Rights Law has several articles that mentioned abolishing the death penalty against Juvenile and a limit the death penalty against people, also mention that people have the right to access a fair trial and lawyer without facing torture and the death penalty for less serious crime. However, none of the International Human Rights Law such as Article 6 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights could have an impact on decreasing death penalty in Iran, although the large number of Iranian judges and member of the security were listed on the sanction list due to their involvement of violation of human rights, such as torturing and sending prisoners to the death penalty without having an international level of courts.
Finally, the report wants to argue that International Human Rights law like Article 6 of the ICCPR urges the countries in the world to abolish the death penalty for less serious crime or limit the death row. Therefore, the mass numbers of countries in the world were decided to abolish capital punishment or decrease it. However, International Human Rights Law has no effect on Iran, although Iran claims that the country agrees with international law protocols. For example, the numbers of people who were executed in Iran in 2011 was around 500 but, in 2014 was reached over 700 people, and from 2015 to 2016 have been reached 1000 death row, does not include people who were killed under torture.
Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre
21 June 2016
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