Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

26 June 2012

Iran: Commute death sentences imposed for drinking alcohol

Iran: Commute death sentences imposed for drinking alcohol
Alcohol consumption is forbidden under Iran's Penal Code, with repeat offenders sometimes sentenced to death.

Alcohol consumption is forbidden under Iran's Penal Code, with repeat offenders sometimes sentenced to death.

© FARZIN NEMATI/AFP/Getty Images


Iran must stop imposing the death penalty on alleged drugs and alcohol offenders, as a first step towards abolishing capital punishment outright
Source: 
Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme
Date: 
Wed, 27/06/2012

Two men found guilty for the third time of consuming alcohol – forbidden under Iran’s Penal Code – must not be executed, Amnesty International said.

The head of the judiciary in north-eastern Khorasan Razavi province, Seyed Hassan Shariati, announced that the authorities were preparing to carry out death sentences upheld by the Supreme Court in Tehran.

The two men, whom the authorities have not named, each received 80 lashes following their two previous convictions for alcohol consumption.

Article 179 of Iran’s Penal Code provides for a mandatory death sentence following the third conviction for drinking alcohol. A revised version of the Penal Code which has not yet come into force continues to provide this most severe of penalties for repeated convictions for this offence.

“We oppose the death penalty in all cases, but even so alcohol consumption cannot reasonably be classified as one of the ‘most serious crimes’, the internationally agreed minimum standard for capital crimes to be used by those countries who still retain the death penalty,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“It is regrettable that the Iranian authorities did not take advantage of their recent review of the Penal Code to uphold their international human rights obligations and remove the penalties of flogging and execution for alcohol consumption.”
 
Despite the severe penalties in place for its production, trade or consumption, alcohol is readily available on the black market in Iran.

The announcement of the executions followed a media debate earlier this year concerning reports of rising alcohol consumption in the country and calls to find new ways to address the issue.

Although death sentences for alcohol use are relatively rare, Iran frequently imposes the death penalty for drugs offences – particularly trafficking more than specified amounts of various narcotics or other illegal drugs – despite there being no clear evidence that the death penalty serves as an effective deterrent against drug-related offences.

Iran is second only to China in terms of the volume of death penalties carried out annually, with many of the more than 600 executions believed to have taken place in 2011 carried out behind a cloak of secrecy.

The vast majority of executions in the country are for drug-related offences.

International standards prohibit the use of the death penalty except for “crimes with an intention to kill which resulted in the loss of life”, and the UN Human Rights Committee has on numerous occasions found that drug-related offences do not meet this criterion.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Iran must stop imposing the death penalty on alleged drugs and alcohol offenders, as a first step towards abolishing capital punishment outright,” said Ann Harrison.

Issue

Death Penalty 
Trials And Legal Systems 

Country

Iran 

Region

Middle East And North Africa 

Follow #DeathPenalty @amnestyonline on twitter

News

11 July 2014

Refugees in Nairobi are appealing against a controversial ruling that would force thousands of Somalis from their homes to live in squalid overcrowded camps in north Kenya.

Read more »
19 June 2014

Chile’s commitment to decriminalize abortion in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape, the woman’s life is in danger and when the foetus is not viable is a positive... Read more »

10 July 2014

The sentencing of five media workers in Myanmar each to 10 years’ imprisonment with hard labour for “disclosing state secrets” makes today a dark day for freedom of expression... Read more »

11 July 2014

Amnesty International has gathered graphic and compelling evidence of savage beatings and other torture meted out against activists, protesters and journalists in eastern... Read more »

08 July 2014

Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including the military wing of Hamas, to ensure that civilian lives are... Read more »