Last updated: 10 March, 2012

UN urges Iran to reconsider death penalty

The United Nations called on Iran to ban the death penalty in cases that do not meet standards of “serious crime” as defined by international law, according to a report to be published Monday.

In the report, special UN rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed “urges the Government to prohibit the death penalty for cases that do not meet the standard of ‘serious crime’ as defined by international law, and recommends that authorities commute capital sentences for individuals whose crimes do not meet that standard”.

He also called on the Iranian government “to seriously consider a moratorium on the death penalty for all crimes” … and “to allow for legal representation of accused persons at all stages of investigations”.

Shaheed noted an “alarming increase in executions since 2003”.

The report on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council here on Monday.

Shaheed said “that drug offences do not meet the ‘serious crime’ standard set by international law”, and renewed calls on the government to implement a moratorium on the death penalty, especially in drug-related cases.

Tehran should also “seriously pursue efforts to abolish the death penalty for juveniles, and to commute all capital sentences against them”.

He expressed “concern about the use of stoning as a method of execution” and said “that adultery does not constitute a serious crime by international standards”.

“Many of the allegations received contend that the rule of law meant to protect human rights is frequently breached, impunity is promoted by a reluctance to hold violators accountable, and the space for public scrutiny of policies and actions that have an impact on the integrity of governance is severely restricted,” said his report.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran possesses the basic legislative framework and tools to promote respect for human rights.”

Shaheed undertook two missions for the purposes of the report.

He held talks with non-governmental organisations, including two that were sympathetic to the government’s views on several subjects, in Geneva in October last year.

He also interviewed 19 individuals who submitted allegations of human rights violations.

In November and December, he travelled to France, Germany and Belgium to meet non-governmental organisations, members of the Iranian diaspora, diplomats and intergovernmental organisations.

He also interviewed 80 people, including victims and witnesses of human rights violations.