Increasing numbers of death penalty in Iran year by year is alarming. This trend is completely against the global trend that shows a clrear decrease worldwide. In my view, the Iranian case needs immediate focus of global politics as Iran, claiming application of Sharia, is playing a model role for many fundamentalist movements across the globe.
Amnesty International's research shows that countries that still carry out executions are the exception rather than the rule. In addition to China, the worst offending nations were Iran with at least 388 executions, Iraq at least 120, Saudi Arabia at least 69 and the USA with 52. The past year saw capital punishment applied extensively to send political messages, to silence opponents or to promote political agendas in China, Iran and Sudan, according to Amnesty International's report. Based on the AI report, in Iran, 112 executions were known to have taken place in the eight-week period between the presidential election on 12 June and the inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term as President on 5 August. The report addresses the discriminatory way the death penalty was applied in 2009, often after grossly unfair trials, and used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities.
All this shows the Iranian criminal justice under Islamization project has dramatically failed to establish a secure Islamic Republic. Fears of crime and violence in large cities like Tehran are accumulating. The regime is getting more and more repressive and violent crimes are on the rise. Many progressive Iranians gradually questions this inhumane treatment of the criminal justce system and continously ask if they will be able to start realizing the aim to abolish the death penalty? To be realistic, under the current political structure it seems Iranians have much unaccomplished jobs concerning the question of death penalty.
However, we should not forget that the death penalty and all forms of inhumane punishments are stronlgy linked to the theory of State. The most concrete and obvious expression of the Islamic state’s sovereign power is done through criminal law. The theory of punishment and criminal law has significant connection to political theory in post revolutionary Iran. Therefore, it was not surprising to witness the number one agenda item of clerical rule was changing criminal punishment system.
In our time, the history of human rights and dignity is strongly linked to history of punishment and the expressive functions of punishment can be easily read in the context of capital punishment. Anyway, death penalty is a state’s action in the modern world even in the Islamicized, (=Feghhi-based Islam) criminal justice systems like Iran. Therefore, to get knowledge and information about the role of state and its interaction with society and religion in the Muslim world, to have comparative and scholarly reflections on capital punishment, in both its theoretical and practical aspects, will be enlightening.
In 2009, as Amnesty International reports, the number of countries that have stopped implementing the death penalty in practice or/and law has grown to an all-time high of 139. 139 countries of the 192 in the United Nations shows a historic trend. Among this number 90 countries and territories have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In this year only 25 countries carried out executions in practice, 91 percent of them in just six countries: China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and the USA, so-called the World Alliance for Death Penalty.
Last but not least, I feel we Iranians have to acknowledge those courageous women and men inside Iran who stand against death penalty despite of all threats and intimidations. Above all, the late Iranian political dissident Dariush Forouhar (1928-1998) is an example. As a founder and leader of the Hezb-e Mellat-e Iran (Nation of Iran Party), just some months before his assassination in Tehran he, in the name of his party too, issued a statement for abolishment of death penalty in Iran. After the failed resistance of National Front against Ayatollah Khomeinihi's Islamic Punishment Laws in 1980, this statement is unique regarding after revolutionary criminal policy approaches of oppositional groups from inside Iran under repressive intelligent services of Islamic Republic of Iran. As an independent critic of the Islamic government, Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari were cruelly assassinated by stabbing in one of the chain murders of Iran, for which the Iranian Intelligent Service (WAWAK) was officially found culpable.
For the full text of Forouhar's statement click the below link: