Death Penalty

Nations around the globe carry out particular punishments for the conduct of individuals which are condemned by the state’s government. The diversity of criminal conducts lead the government of each state to evolve and exploit range of punishment strategies. The notion of “execution” arose ever since the human beings commenced to acknowledge the necessity of  implementing  punishments in legal codes to address prevention of serious crimes.

Nowadays, individuals receive death penalty as a punishment around the world but  the types, the grounds for imposing executions and the judiciary legal procedures differ substantially in each state.

In this article we tend to discuss the types of capital punishment in different states and demonstrate the efficiency of the mentioned strategy-death penalty- to diminish crime rates. Moreover, we tend to indicate that based on reports, most of the executions take place in Middle East and introduce the resolutions that possibly are helpful in directing  the states in this region to terminate the use of capital punishment in their justice system .

Scholars have indicated  that execution-  theoretically and practically- is not constructive and useful in a legal system. It is provided that, it does not facilitate the justice system to achieve its judicial goals within the society. Firstly, execution violates the most basic human rights principles. It denies the basic fundamental human rights; the right to life and in cases in which death penalty is used as a political tool, the right to freedom of beliefs. Secondly, It does not deter crime. The ultimate purpose of execution is to deter serious crimes. However,  this claim has been repeatedly discredited, and there is no evidence that the death penalty is any more effective in reducing crime than imprisonment.[1] Lastly, individuals are more likely to be sentenced to death if they  are poor or belong to a racial, ethnic or religious minority because of discrimination in the justice system. [2]Taking into consideration the political, judicial and governmental system of each state, the authorities exploit certain strategies to maintain control over the peace, order and harmony within the state. However, certain states, which are deemed to fall under dictatorship system abuse their delegated power by implementing inhumane structures in their judicial system in order to maintain full control over the state’s conditions. These states misuse the legal system to achieve their ultimate goal- which are mostly political- in the name of serving its citizens. In most cases, the authorities reticently target their final objectives and move towards approaching them by publicly deceiving its citizens when they introduce a fake goal behind specific strategies. For instance,  in some states, imposing a death penalty to certain crimes is a technique to cease activities that are possible threats to the government’s authority. (We elaborate on this matter later when we discuss the critical political conditions in Iran)

According to the studies, using the death penalty in a justice system undermines the credibility, fairness and sincerity of the system. Jay Inslee , the governor of Washington states believe that “There are too many flaws in the system. And when the ultimate decision is death there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system” .Within countries, Iran, Saudi Arabia and China have the highest rates of executed individuals as a result of different crimes. But there is one major characteristic which is present in the reasons of being executed and that is non-compliance with the justice system’s rigid, irrational and unfair framework of the state.

In some countries, the life of individuals are taken by hanging, beheading and fire squads. In other states, lethal injection, electrocution or gas chamber are being used. The government of each state uses its authority to determine the style of exercising the death penalty to different crimes. For instance, in Pakistan, a married woman who is convicted of adultery is stoned to death; Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions and campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.[3]

For the purposes of this article, we focus on the rates of execution, issues surrounding the types of execution and the resolutions that address the high rates of execution in the Middle East region. The Amnesty International, releases an annual report on the issue of death penalty and provide the readers with the rate of executions within each state. The report that is the basis for our analysis covers the judicial use of the death penalty for the period January to December 2014. The organization recorded executions in 22 countries in 2014.[4]. At least 607 executions were carried out worldwide.

Over 30 courtiers practice execution as a punishment for drug related crimes. [5] UN bodies have repeatedly said that drug crime falls short of the “most serious crimes”. International law says that the death penalty can only be used for the “most serious crimes” like murder. However as a non-governmental Organization, the ICHR condemns the nature of death penalty  as a punishment, regardless of its justifications.

States in Middle East, carry out the capital punishment in response to particular crimes.  Moreover, many countries that imposed death sentences in 2014, did so in response to real or perceived threats to state security and public safety posed by terrorism, crime or internal instability.[6] Other capital crimes which did not meet the standard of “most serious crimes” but for which the death penalty was imposed in 2014  in the Middle East region included: committing “adultery” while married (UAE); rape that resulted in death (Afghanistan); rape (Saudi Arabia, UAE); kidnapping (Saudi Arabia); torture (Saudi Arabia); “insulting the prophet of Islam” (Iran); blasphemy (Pakistan); “witchcraft” and “sorcery” (Saudi Arabia).[7] It should also be noted that countries such as; Qatar and Saudi Arabia execute individuals who are convicted of different forms of “treason”, “acts against national security”, “collaboration” with a foreign entity, “espionage other “crimes against the state”, whether or not they led to a loss of life.[8] It is prominent to note that some of these crimes are not recognizably criminal offences under international human rights law.


According to reports, execution in 2014 in the Middle East region are as follow: Afghanistan (6), Iran (289+), Iraq (61+), Jordan (11), Pakistan (7), Palestine (State of) (2+, Hamas authorities, Gaza), Saudi Arabia (90+), UAE (1) and Yemen (22+) and judicial executions that took place in Oman and Syria were not confirmed officially. [9]Three countries − Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia − were responsible for 72% of the 607 recorded executions. In Iran the authorities officially announced 289 executions, but hundreds more were carried out which were not officially acknowledged. [10]

Amnesty International has received reports indicating that at least 14 people were executed in Iran for crimes they allegedly committed when they were under 18 years of age. In addition, in the majority of countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the death penalty was imposed after proceedings that were unfair in nature. In several countries  including Afghanistan, Bahrain,  Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the courts based their sentencing on “confessions” that may have been obtained through torture or other ill-treatment which raised particular concerns in relation to court proceedings for International Human Rights organizations. [11]According to the Amnesty International reports, Iran and Saudi Arabia have the highest rates of execution in the region which makes it inevitable for us, as human rights advocates to examine the issues within two states and seek resolutions to address this catastrophic event.



           Iran carried out the most executions in region in 2014 and by the end of July, 2015  the government executed nearly 700 people – many of these executions were not officially acknowledged.[12] Iranian justice system is the second most prolific executioner in the world after China, according to Amnesty International’s latest global death penalty report. The Islamic Republic of Iran has executed approximately sixty-four of its own citizens in the first few weeks of January, 2015, according to recent reports by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center and Iran Focus.[13]

Iranian authorities or state controlled or state-sanctioned media officially announced 289 executions (278 men and 11 women).[14] However, reliable sources reported at least 454 more executions in addition to those officially announced, bringing the total number of executions in 2014 to at least 743.[15]Of those officially announced, 122 involved individuals convicted of drug-related offences and 29 were carried out in public. This figure included those that were officially announced and those that were not. In addition, at least 22 commutations were granted while at least 81 people were on death row at the end of the year. [16]“The rate of executions in Iran is deplorable which, if they continue at the current rate, could reach more than 1,000 in 2015.” [17]In case after case we hear allegations of torture, fundamentally flawed trials, all in breach of international law and standards. Executions continued at a high rate including: execution of minors, and executions by  imposing sentences of death penalty by stoning, although none were reported to have been carried out.

There are various grounds on which the government of Islamic Republic of Iran carries out its justification for performance of death penalty as a method of punishment. It should be noted, that the reasoning behind executions in Iran is mostly politically  interrelated.                     In some case, the government label individuals as offenders who have acted against the religion’s guidelines. Many “offenders” are declared Moharebeh (waging war against God), but the majority of those who are executed are convicted on simple drug charges. Other crimes, such as being a homosexual or blasphemy against Islam’s Muhammad also could be punished by execution. Gay activists estimate that some 4,000 alleged gays have been executed by Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.[18] The execution of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in 2005 is one of the examples beside other thousands which suggest that homosexual relationships are punishable by death in Iran.[19] Iran also has the world’s highest rate of execution by stoning. There is no official report available proclaiming the number of stoning cases in Iran but at least 11 people are in prison under sentence of stoning, according to an Iranian human rights lawyer, Shadi Sadr.

In various cases, the authorities of Islamic Republic of Iran,  convict individuals and reserve them death penalties in order to manipulate the public’s mind and maintain the political control over the country in the name of crime deterrence.  Mehrafarid Amirkhosravi, Iranian business man, was “secretly executed” for playing a part in “2011 Iranian embezzlement scandal”.[20] The fraud involved Khosravi forging documents to get credit from Iran’s biggest bank, Bank Saderat. Khosravi used the credit to purchase state-owned assets including Iran’s major steel producer Khuzestan Steel Co.[21]Khosravi’s lawyer, Gholam Ali Riahi, stated that the sentence was carried out without him being informed and Mr. Khosravi’s wife heard about the death of her husband through news which she did not believe until it was confirmed by the lawyer. The accused was executed by hanging  in Evin Prison in Tehran on May 24, 2014. As, it is evident in this case, not only the international nature of the fair trial has not been served but also the government  used the condemned act of execution in order to maintain its fullest control on covering the reality of its political, financial and systematic corruption. The authorities, executed 4 individuals involved in this scandal, to mislead the public’s opinion and demolish the fraudulent image that the truth behind the case-Mr.Khosravi’s statements- might have  introduced to citizens of the state. This is one instance within millions of other instances in which the government of Islamic Republic of Iran intentionally tends to impede individuals who might question the credibility, reliability and integrity of the system by imposing and carrying death penalties.

In respect of juvenile execution,  it should be stated that Amnesty International has received reports of least 75 executions of juvenile offenders, including at least three juvenile offenders in 2015. More than 160 juvenile offenders are believed to be currently on death row in prisons across the country.[22]  This rate highlights the fact that state of Iran violates the clear binding provision in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), that no death sentences may be imposed for offences committed by individuals under the age of 18.[23]

“The use of the death penalty is cruel, and inhumane and degrading in any circumstances, but it is utterly sickening when meted out as a punishment for a crime committed by a person who was under 18 years of age, and after legal proceedings that make a mockery of juvenile justice,” said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. It is in his belief that with these executions the Iranian authorities have indicated display its unashamed disrespect for the human rights of individuals and specifically children, including their right to life.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is one of the most prolific executioners in the world. The state, imposes death sentences after unfair trials. At least 102 executed took place in first six months of 2015 which is more than 90 executions which occurred in of 2014.[24] Regularly, one person was executed every two days and most of these orders were performed by means of beheading or firing squad.[25] In certain cases executions are carried out in public and the dead bodies and severed heads are put on display afterwards which is sadly the worst inhuman image that a country could  present to the world. Almost half of executions in recent years were for non-lethal crimes, At least 2,208 people executed between January 1985 and June 2015 and nearly half of those executed since 1985 were either Juvenile offenders or people with mental disabilities among those executed.[26]

“Saudi Arabia’s record when it comes to sentencing people to death after deeply flawed legal proceedings is utterly shameful. The death penalty is often arbitrarily applied after blatantly unfair trials,” said James Lynch. The state also violates its duty to the binding provision of UN convention on the Rights of the Childs. The kingdom has executed 137 people so far this year, compared to 90 in the whole of 2014. In February 2014, the authorities put into force a new counter-terror law that has since then been used against human rights defenders and activists to sentence them to long prison terms and even to death. [27] Often, families of prisoners on death row are not notified of their execution and only learn of their loved one’s fate after they have been put to death, sometimes through media reports.


At times, the government of a state embodies a conservative cultural political approach to address  specific issues. On occasions, the authorities of  countries which are politically corrupted, exercise their supremacy in order to suppress opposing schemes that arise within the state. To attain the control, the government put into practice inhumane, barbaric and cruel punishments for designated crimes that create critical conditions. This questions the fairness, prospect and credibility of the government of the state. Iran, which has one of the highest rates of the execution is an excellent example to demonstrate that the authorities deliberately use execution in the name of crime deterrence to specifically  address their ultimate political goals.

The total number of death sentences imposed increased significantly in comparison to 2013. Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia continue to carry out the greatest number of executions in the Middle East, accounting for 90% of all those confirmed in 2014. In addition, death sentences were imposed in countries including Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia after unfair trials.[28]

The death penalty is an inhuman and cannibalistic punishment which is not tolerated by the international humanitarian organizations. It is in our sincere belief that by imposing death penalties, the judiciary system of the state will not achieve the purpose of the designated punishment -deterrence and denunciation- completely.  Despite campaigns calling for an end to capital punishment, executions are still carried out around the world. The citizens of the world should condemn the Criminal Justice System in which the death penalty still exists. It is time to call for change. The states should terminate having the death penalty as an option in their justice system regardless of the identity of the accused, the nature of the crime and their judicial framework.


[1] Amnesty International, Death Penalty, Online:<>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Emma Batha, Special report: The punishment was death by stoning. The crime? Having a mobile phone,Online: Independent<>


[4] Amnesty International, DEATH SENTENCES AND EXECCUTIONS, 2014, Online: <file:///C:/Users/Shimen/Downloads/ACT5000012015ENGLISH.PDF>.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12]Amnesty International, Death penalty 2015: the good and the bad, Online: <>.


[13]  Jordan Schachtel, IRAN KICKS OFF  2015 EXECUTIONS AT RECORD-SETTING PACE,  Online: Breitbart <>.

[14] Supra note 4.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Amnesty International, Iran: Authorities must stop execution of young man convicted of murder in unfair trial, Online: <>.


[18] Supra note 10.

[19] ELIZABETH WEILL-GREENBERG, Mixed Reports on Iran Teen Hanging, Online: <>.

[20] Associated Press, Iran Billionaire prosecuted over 2.6B bank fraud, Onine:<2>.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Supra note 4.

[23] Amnesty International, Iran: Execution of two juvenile offenders in just a few days makes a mockery of Iran’s juvenile justice system, Online:<>.


[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Supra note 4.

[28] Ibid.