Within the borders of Iran, executions are not just carried out behind the doors of the prisons, but something that is part of the public sphere. Public executions are common, meant in part to be a deterrent for crimes and drug use. But the reality is that they have become a level of entertainment and are not the real deterrent that the regime claims.
Children and families are often present at these executions, such as the one for a 21-year old inmate, who was publicly hanged in Babol, which is in northern Iran. The victim was only identified by his initials and had been found guilty of murder. His sentence was issued by the first criminal court of the province and was carried out on Saturday after being permitted the “Head of the Judiciary”, according to the public prosecutor of Mazandaran.
Another prisoner was hanged at dawn on Saturday, April 22. He was sentenced for drug related charges and Mehdi Mirzaei, the individual who was hanged, had been held in Parsilon Prison for the past three years. This is just another example of how these executions also are used to address the drug issues within their society.
Other realities of public executions are that the individuals being executed could be prisoners sentenced when they were juveniles. One man was publicly hanged on April 22, in the city of Babol, according to the state-run Iranian news agencies. The state controlled YJC news agency reported that the 21-year old was identified as HR, and he was sentenced to the Qisas death penalty, which is a retribution penalty.
Iran executes more individuals per capita than any other country in the world, according to Amnesty International’s annual report. At least 197 individuals have been executed in Iran since the beginning of 2017.
The first deputy of Iran’s Chief Justice, Mohseni Ejeie, cited criticism regarding a number of executions of criminals in a press conference. He cited several examples of individuals who were executed for moving narcotics. “Or in Kerman, two people identified as Abdulhamid Hossein Zehi and Faramarz Kohkan, who were active in a drug trafficking ring, were hanged…or in Karaj a person was sentenced to death for carrying drugs…what else can we do with these people except execute them? At any rate, we will act according to our laws…and will not show leniency,” said Ejeie.
The result is that public executions will continue, despite the evidence that they are not a necessary deterrent and can have a significant impact on the mental and emotional well-being of society as a whole.