Iran remains the darkest and most barbaric spot on the planet in terms of capital punishment. It is one of the very few countries where the rate of executions is actually increasing. Moreover, the death penalty is practiced for such ‘crimes’ as adultery and homosexual conduct among adults.
execution by stoning for adultery. Some recent reports suggest that Iran has retreated from its plans, following international protests, but that it will still conduct the execution by hanging.
Meanwhile, a so-called Iranian human rights ‘expert’, Mohammed Javed Larijani, who is head of the ‘human rights council’ of the Iranian judiciary, has condemned international protests against the execution, saying that Iran's judicial system will not change its direction because of ‘Western attacks’ and ‘media pressures’. All I can say about this 'expert' is that he didn't graduate from our human rights programme.
In 1999, I visited Iran to lecture about international criminal law. I was asked by lawyers in the government whether Iran might be subject to prosecutions for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court because it conducts executions of women for adultery by stoning. I was then told there were a handful of such executions every year, and the question was a technical one: would this be a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population? More recently, I was back in Iran and when I recalled this conversation. I was told: ‘We don’t do that anymore.’
At events in Iran, speakers always begin with homage to Allah who is described as ‘the most merciful’. But the State isn’t very merciful when it comes to capital punishment. Rather the opposite. Some explain that this thirst for barbaric punishments comes from Islamic laws and doctrines. But I think that Islam and its laws are indeed fundamentally 'merciful'. The problem is that barbaric regimes hide behind distorted and anachronistic versions of religious text as justification for what tyrants - whatever their religion - have been imposing on their people since time immemorial.