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…

Zulfikar’s case

Zulfikar Ali
The death on Thursday of Zulfikar Ali, a Pakistani suffering from liver cancer and diabetes and who had been languishing in Indonesian prisons since 2004, serves as a reminder of the miscarriage of justice he suffered. 

Zulfikar was given the death penalty for drug trafficking even though ample evidence existed to suggest he was innocent. He was never caught with any drugs and was only arrested after an Indian national who was found in possession of heroin named Zulfikar as his accomplice. Later, however, that person claimed a false confession was beaten out of him by the police. 

Zulfikar also said that his own confession was the result of torture and that the police had asked for a bribe to set him free. Leading up to his trial, Zulfikar was denied consular access even though this is a bedrock principle of international law; he was not allowed a lawyer till a month after his arrest. 

Despite there being more than enough doubt to make a conviction impossible, Zulfikar was given the death penalty. Even his terminal illness was not enough to get him mercy. Earlier this year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had said during a visit to Pakistan that he would look into Zulfikar’s release on humanitarian grounds but that never transpired.

There is no reason to doubt the commitment of the then government in Pakistan to Zulfikar’s cause. It did what it could to ensure he had legal representation and was able to eventually able to get him access to embassy officials. The government also paid a portion of his medical bills since the Indonesian government does not pay for the medical treatment of prisoners. But Pakistan should not give up the fight even now. It is essential that his name be formally cleared. 

We may also want to think about the scores of convicts who are on death row here but whose guilt is in doubt and whose trials did not meet the minimum standards of justice. 

There have been horror stories of people on death row who have been executed by mistake even though they still had appeals pending. A true commitment to justice requires we call out not just foreign countries that mistreat our nationals but to examine our own shortcomings as well.

Source: The News, Editorial, June 3, 2018

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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