Iran: 2016 a deadly year despite a slight decrease in the executions
Despite the decrease in the executions, the situation remains alarming
Commenting on the relative decrease in the 2016 execution figures, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, IHR’s Director and spokesperson, said: “We welcome any reduction in the use of the death penalty. But, unfortunately, there are no indications that the relative decrease in the number of the executions in 2016 was due to a change in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s policy. Our reports show that the Iranian authorities have executed at least 170 people in the first three months of 2017 alone.”
In violation of its international obligations, Iran continued to execute juvenile offenders in 2016. According to the report, at least five juvenile offenders were executed in 2016 in Iran. Two of the juvenile offenders were reportedly sentenced to death for drug offences.
Iranian authorities also carried out public executions and other barbaric punishments such as amputations, and blinding of eyes. According to IHR’s reports, 33 people were hanged in public spaces, in front of hundreds of citizens including children.
The legacy of Hassan Rouhani’s presidency: Openness towards the West and more death penalty in Iran
This 2016 annual report is being published only a few months before the end of Hassan Rouhani’s first presidential period. A review of Mr. Rouhani’s 3.5 years as President shows that, despite good diplomatic relations and dialogue with the EU, the number of executions under his presidency was significantly higher than the annual executions under the previous two periods under Ahmadinejad.
After the election of Hassan Rouhani in 2013, the issue of the death penalty has not been on the agenda of the bilateral dialogue between EU and Iran. This might be the reason why no specific reforms or changes in the policy with regards to the death penalty were applied during Rouhani’s period. The EU has admitted that human rights and the issue of the death penalty were not on the agenda prior to 2016, and, for the first time in April 2016, the EU signaled that after the nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions, “frank exchanges on human rights issues” will be part of the renewed EU-Iran dialogue.
Iran’s Revolutionary Courts: Responsible for the majority of the executions and crackdown on the civil society.
The report focuses particularly on the role of the Revolutionary Courts as a major source of arbitrariness and violations of due process in the Iranian judicial system. The Revolutionary Courts are responsible for the vast majority of the death sentences issued and carried out over the last 37 years in Iran. According to IHR’s 2016 report, at least 64% of all executions in 2016 and more than 3,200 executions since 2010 have been based on death sentences issued by the Revolution Courts. The Revolution Courts are less transparent than the Public Courts and Revolutionary Court judges are known for abusing their legal powers: Trials lasting less than 15 minutes, lack of access to a chosen lawyer, and sentences based on confessions extracted under torture are the hallmarks of the Revolutionary Courts.
Revolutionary Courts also play a key role in the crackdown against human rights defenders and the abolitionist movement. In 2016 the Revolutionary Courts sentenced the human rights defenders Narges Mohammadi and Atena Daemi to 10 years and seven years in prison respectively for their activities against the death penalty.
On the issue of the lack of due process, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “A sustainable reduction in use of the death penalty is impossible as long as there is no due process. Revolutionary Courts which sentence hundreds of people to death every year are among the key institutions responsible for Iran’s violations of due process and must be shut down.”
The launch of the report as an opportunity to raise awareness on Iran’s worrying situation
To launch the 2016 Annual report on the death penalty in Iran, Iran Human Rights (IHR) and ECPM call on Iran’s European dialogue partners to push for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Iran and for major reforms in the country’s judicial system which does not meet minimum international standards. The two organizations also call for the immediate release of Narges Mohammadi and Atena Daemi.
ECPM’s Executive Director, Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, said: “We call on every democratic State and all Iran’s European partners to make serious efforts to reduce the death penalty in Iran, and to include human rights, especially the situation of the death penalty in Iran, in their bilateral and multilateral dialogues. A good outcome can only be achieved through constant and permanent pressure in the dialogue with Iran.”
CategoriesIran (Islamic Republic of)