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Iran | Death Penalty According to Shariah Law

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Chapter III of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran contains provisions related to the rights of the people.  In this Chapter, Article 22 states: “The dignity, life, property, rights, domicile, and occupations of people may not be violated, unless sanctioned by law.” However, the number of crimes punishable by death in Iran is among the highest in the world. Charges such as “adultery, incest, rape, sodomy, insulting the Prophet Mohammad and other great Prophets, possessing or selling illicit drugs, theft and alcohol consumption for the 4th time, premeditated murder, moharebeh (waging war against God), efsad-fil-arz (corruption on earth), baghy (armed rebellion), fraud and human trafficking” are capital offences.[1] Many of the charges punishable by death cannot be considered as “most serious crimes” and do not meet the ICCPR standards.[2] Murder, drug possession and trafficking, rape/sexual assault, moharebeh and efsad-fil-arz and baghy are the most common charges resulting

BOOKS: Injustice – Life and Death in the Court Room of America. By Clive Stafford Smith

In the book, Stafford-Smith goes through each of the components of the criminal justice system in the US and explains what happened (or what did not happen) in the Maharaj case - the defence lawyer, the police, the jury, the judge, the execution. While telling the story of the Maharaj case, Stafford Smith recounts other experiences of his cases, to give a powerful polemic against the death penalty.

For a British-based lawyer such as me, there is something humbling about reading this account. Stafford Smith makes no bones about it - this work has been his passion and he feels responsible for each of his clients.

He has watched 6 of his clients being executed - 2 in a gas chamber, 2 by electric chair and 2 by lethal injection. Knowing that your advice, your advocacy and your counsel has so much at stake is a frightening thought and one can only imagine at the personal cost to Stafford Smith. It is not, one thinks a normal 9-to-5 job with set annual holidays.

There is 1 particularly harrowing passage where Stafford Smith recalls the electrocution of 1 of his previous clients. Stafford Smith watches him as 2,000 volts of electricity is passed through his client for 2 minutes and in Stafford Smiths words, is roasted alive.

It brings home the absurdity and barbaric nature of the death penalty.

It recalls to me, an old Amnesty International document that asked how the civilised world could say that if you strapped someone to a chair, passed 100 volts of electricity through them for 30 seconds to cause them pain - it would be called torture and banned throughout the world.

If you did the same with a larger voltage and for longer - and killed them - it is called the death penalty and is apparently lawful in the US. Absurdity and barbarism indeed.

It is what Stafford Smith has spent his life fighting. It makes one pause, remember what is important and why - and that fighting injustice should be a cause that we all sign up to.

This book gives an insight into Clive Stafford Smith and his work - and I can unashamedly say, that Clive is still one of my heroes.


Source: Camden New Journal, October 25, 2012

Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America
by Clive Stafford Smith400PP, Harvill Secker t £18 (PLUS £1.35 p&p)
Buy now from
 Telegraph Books (RRP £20, e-book £17.01) þþ

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