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Politics

Why Execution Of Protesters In Iran Amount To “State-Sanctioned Killing?”

January 18, 2023
Faramarz Davar
2 min read
Why Execution Of Protesters In Iran Amount To “State-Sanctioned Killing?”

Amid growing international condemnation of Iran’s execution of protesters, the UN human rights chief has accused the Iranian government of using the death penalty to “punish” demonstrators and “strike fear” into the population.

“The weaponization of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights - such as those participating in or organizing demonstrations - amounts to state-sanctioned killing,” Volker Türk said earlier this month.

He made the comments after the Islamic Republic hanged four young men - Mohsen Shekari, Majidreza Rahnavard, Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini - in connection with months of anti-government demonstrations across the country.

The term “state-sanctioned killing” is used to refer to cases where the state or its actors commission, endorse or enable the execution of individuals following judicial processes that do not meet the minimum guarantees of fair trial.

Such a practice is used by some governments as an instrument of repression.

Under rule-of-law principles, all defendants have the right to a fair trial, which stops innocent people from being wrongly convicted of a crime, and to be defended by a lawyer of their choice

But in the Islamic Republic, all three branches of government work under the supervision of one man, the supreme leader, meaning that the judiciary is not independent from the executive.

Those arrested for challenging the Iranian government’s authority are often exposed to torture and ill-treatment, and are forced to confess to crimes they have not committed.

Forced confessions are then used in court to issue death sentences and other heavy sentences following expedited trials that do not meet due process required by international human rights law.

Defendants are routinely tried without the presence of a lawyer of their choice and are denied the right to appeal their convictions. The verdicts are sent directly to the Supreme Court for approval.

As Türk emphasized, such violations of due process and fundamental rights were reported during the prosecution of Shekari, Rahnavard, Karami and Hosseini, making their execution equivalent to “arbitrary deprivation of life.”

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