Over the past five years, there have been repeated calls by the international community for Iran to institute a moratorium on all executions within the country. Convictions were called into question based on faulty trials, lack of legal representation, and confessions obtained under duress or outright torture.
Individuals who are convicted of drug offenses are also at risk of receiving the death penalty, despite the fact that these offenses do not meet international standards for the death penalty.
“Iranian officials should end all executions and outlaw the use of the death penalty for drug offenders, which does not meet international legal standards,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch in January 2017. “Packing prisons with drug offenders and rushing to send them to death row without due process in highly flawed trials will just worsen Iran’s justice problem while doing nothing to solve Iran’s drug problem.”
Iran executed hundreds of people in 2016, with a majority of them for drug offenses. Their drug law mandates the death penalty for the trafficking, possession, or trade of as little as 30 grams of synthetic drugs or their chemical derivatives.
“The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment that violates the right to life. Its use is abhorrent in any circumstances, but carrying out these executions would be particularly tragic, given ongoing discussions in the Iranian parliament that could lead to the abolition of the death penalty for non-violent drug offenses,” said Phillip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
This is just one example of the individuals receiving the death penalty. Another group are juvenile offenders who are sentenced to death for crimes committed while they were underage.
Yet these executions continue in Iran. Just this week, a 21-year-old was hanged in public for killing another man in a fight. Another prisoner was hung for drug related charges in Borojerd Prison. He was a husband and father of two children. Identified as Saied Papizadeh, he was in prison for six years prior to his execution.
Another prisoner was hanged in Parsilon Prison after being convicted on drug related charges. He had been held in prison for three years prior to his execution.
For those who have not yet been executed, urgent requests are being made by human rights groups to the international community, in hopes of pressuring Iran to stay or commute their sentences. One such individual is Peyman Barandah, who was 15 years old at the time of his arrest. He is due to be executed on May 10th. In August 2012, he was sentenced to death after Branch Five of the Criminal Court in Fars Province convicted him of murder for the fatal stabbing of a teenager during a fight in June 2010. Barandah has repeatedly maintained his innocence, saying another teenager that was part of the fight inflicted the fatal blow. His death sentence was upheld by Branch Six of the Supreme Court in September 2013.
This is just one example out of hundreds showcasing Iran’s juvenile justice system. For those who come in contact with Iran’s judiciary, there is little chance of a fair trial and the likelihood of a sentence that defies international treaties and laws.