Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

"Whether guilty or not, the outcome of the death penalty is the same. In Iran, the death penalty is by hanging, and it takes from several agonising seconds to several harrowing minutes for death to occur and for everything to be over."

Every year several hundred people are executed by the Iranian authorities.
According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and other human rights groups, death row prisoners have often no access to a defence lawyer after their arrest and are sentenced to death following unfair trials and based on confessions extracted from them under torture. 
These are issues which have been addressed in IHR’s previous reports. The current report is based on first-hand accounts of several inmates held in Iran's prisons and their families. The report seeks to illustrate other aspects of how the death penalty affects the inmate, their families and, as a consequence, society.
How does a death row inmate experience his final hours?
Speaking about the final ho…

Film-maker Werner Herzog decries capital punishment at “Abyss” premiere

Werner Herzog
Acclaimed director Werner Herzog came out strongly against capital punishment at the premiere of his anticipated doc Into the Abyss in Toronto last night, telling attendees that no one from his generation who remembered the Nazi era could support the death penalty.

Herzog was met by a standing ovation as he took to the stage at the packed Ryerson Theatre for the premiere of his film, which launched on the 1st day of the Toronto International Film Festival.

The director told the crowd he wanted to make his position on the death sentence clear from the start. “I’m not an advocate of capital punishment,” he said. “I’m against it, but I don’t even have an argument – I have a story; the story of Nazi Germany.”

Herzog pointed to the huge numbers of people executed by the state during the Nazi reign of Germany – people executed for their religion, for being handicapped, or for being foreigners.

“No one from my generation, none of my peers, is for capital punishment,” he added. “It’s as simple as that.”

As for the inmates he had spoken to on death row: “None of them are monsters. The crimes are monstrous, but people are human beings.”

Herzog said that he was continuing to shoot material for the TV version of Into the Abyss, which will air on Investigation Discovery in the U.S. next year, and said that yesterday [Wednesday] he had been in Livingston, Texas, filming a man on death row who had killed a police officer. “It’s kind of grim work,” he admitted.

Of the series, Herzog said each episode of the TV version would be more focused “on one single person, and only a little bit on the crime,” adding that the overall series would be “much more coherent” than the film.

He also added that, despite the heaviness of talking with so many victims and murderers, it had not really changed his life. “When you film, you have just 50 minutes with an inmate, so you have to perform,” he explained. “But when you’re in the editing room, it’s then that the weight is on you.”

One side-effect of the intense filming: “Both Joe [Bini, the film's editor] and I had given up smoking years ago – we have started smoking again,” he said.

Source: realscreen.com, September 10, 2011

Related article:
"Into the Abyss", Werner Herzog's new documentary about Michael Perry's execution in Texas last year, The New York Times, September 6, 2011

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