Joint Submission: The Death Penalty and Iran’s Compliance with the ICCPR
A submission from:
The Advocates for Human Rights
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty
Iran Human Rights
provided to the Human Rights Committee in conjunction with its upcoming 136th session, which will take place between October 10 and November 4 2022. See an executive summary below, and read the full submission here.
- Iran has failed to uphold its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and has not made the necessary changes to its legal system that would allow for the abolition of capital punishment or for its compliance with the Covenant. The new Islamic Penal Code (IPC) adopted in 2013 retained the death penalty for almost all of the offenses that were punishable by death under the old IPC, including the obligation for judges to pronounce punishments on the basis of authoritative Islamic sources and authentic fatwa that can carry a mandatory death penalty.1 In Iran the application of the death penalty is not limited to the most serious crimes.
- In contravention of Article 6(5) of the ICCPR, Iran routinely executes juvenile offenders. Since 1990, Iran has executed more juvenile offenders than any other country in the world, and the number is more than double the total number of juvenile offenders executed by countries which constitute the next nine countries that continue to execute minors.2 Under the IPC, judges have discretion to grant alternative punishment to minors and individuals who committed crimes while under 18 years of age, but Iran’s judges have continued to sentence juveniles and juvenile offenders to death.3 Iran also executes people who are under the age of 18.
- Additionally, Article 7 of the ICCPR bans torture and cruel, degrading and inhumane punishments, yet Iran continues to hold public executions.4 The primary means of execution in public executions is by hanging, where the victim dies of suffocation and strangulation and it takes several minutes for death to occur.5 State authorities continue to torture suspects and convicts, often to extract forced confessions that are used for political purposes. Additionally, the January 2020 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran notes the poor condition of prisons and detention centers, along with the continued use of prolonged solitary confinement, unreasonable limits on visitation rights, and lack of medical treatment. The Iranian Penal Code describes several execution methods, including hanging, firing squad, crucifixion, and stoning. Iranian authorities have used hanging as the main method of execution, and it was the only method used until 11 May 2020, when authorities executed Kurdish political prisoner Hedayat Abdullahpour by firing squad.6 A June 2019 directive by the Head of the Judiciary, however, gives a detailed description of how authorities should implement executions by hanging, stoning, and crucifixion.
- Iran’s failure to ensure the rights of equal protection and due process under the law provides the most significant roadblock to Iran meeting its obligations under Article 14 of the ICCPR.7
- In its third cycle Universal Periodic Review in 2020, Iran only partially accepted 2 recommendations of 40 that were made relating to the death penalty.
- In June 2020, The Advocates and its partners previously submitted a Suggested List of Issues Prior to Reporting regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for the 129th Session of the Human Rights Committee. This report briefly summarizes and provides updates to the information in that 2020 report and also offers some responses to the State Party Report.
1 Iran Human Rights and ECPM, Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran 2021 (2022), 27.
2 Amnesty International, “Executions of Juveniles Since 1990 as of November 2019,” accessed April 25, 2020, https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/ACT5002332019ENGLISH.pdf
3 Iran Human Rights and ECPM, Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran 2021 (2022), 71.
4 Iran Human Rights, “Iran Resumes Public Executions After Two Years; Iran Human Rights Calls for International Condemnations” accessed August 5, 2022, https://iranhr.net/en/articles/5366/.
5 Iran Human Rights and ECPM, Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran 2021 (2022), 41.
6 Iran Human Rights, “Political Prisoner Hedayat Abdullahpour Executed “by Firing Squad” accessed August 5, 2022, https://iranhr.net/en/articles/4294/.