Iran: Death Penalty Used as Political Instrument – UN Expert

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NEW YORK (October 25, 2021) – A UN human rights expert today described almost all executions in Iran as arbitrary loss of life.

“There are extensive, vague and arbitrary reasons for imposing the death sentence in Iran that can quickly turn this sentence into a political tool,” said Javaid Rehman, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, UN General Assembly at the Presentation of its fourth annual report.

“In addition, the structural deficiencies of the judiciary are so profound and contradict the concept of the rule of law that one can hardly speak of a judiciary,” he said. “The deep-rooted flaws in the law and in the use of the death penalty in Iran mean that most, if not all, executions are arbitrary deprivation of life.”

The country’s 2013 Islamic Criminal Code provides for the death penalty for a wide variety of crimes that violate international human rights law.

In particular, he criticized three vague charges that carry the death penalty and are often used against political opponents or political demonstrators: moharebeh
(“Wage war against God”), efsad-e fel-arz
(“Corruption on Earth”) and baghy
(armed insurrection ”).

Rehman said he was extremely concerned about the practice of sentencing children to death and said Iran is one of the few countries that continues the practice despite the absolute ban under international law.

“The Iranian government has shown that it can reform, which is to be welcomed,” said Rehman. “I urge the authorities to implement further reforms to end the illegal use of the death penalty, in line with the consistent recommendations that international human rights mechanisms address to Iran year after year.”

In addition to the issue of the death penalty, the report also provides an overview of some key human rights concerns, including the oppression of public spaces, ongoing discrimination against religious, ethnic and sexual minorities, the dire state of prisons and the effects of sanctions.

The interactive dialogue will be broadcast live on UN Web TV.

Javaid Rehman
appointed
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran from the UN Human Rights Council in July 2018. He is Professor of International Human Rights Law and Muslim Constitutionalism at Brunel University, London. Mr. Rehman teaches human rights and Islamic law and continues to publish extensively on the topics of international human rights law, Islamic law and constitutional practices of Muslim majority states.

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