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Iran Majles Representatives Advance Measure to Do Away with Death Penalty for Ta'zir Crimes, Pardon Political Prisoners

ISNA / Translation by Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
June 13, 2018
Web article

A member of the Majless Judicial and Legal Commission announced the submission of a measure affirming the urgency of a bill bearing more than 70 signatures to the Presiding Board, providing for a general pardon, reduction and substitution of certain punishments, as well as for the immunity of Iranians residing abroad from criminal prosecution.

In an interview with ISNA, Mohammad Javad Fathi said: “In this Bill, we came up with a number of lenient measures, and in the Single Article we submitted to the Presiding Board, we provided for the modification of the Ta’zir death penalty and life imprisonment, to Ta’zir punishments in the first degree of 20 to 30 years imprisonment, because we believe that based on Islamic law, Ta’zir punishments cannot be death and life imprisonment and must be lighter than Hadd punishments. In fact, from the standpoint of Islamic law, to mete out the death penalty and life imprisonment for crimes subject to Ta’zir punishments was a defect of the law. Therefore, we decided that all cases with Ta’zir-based death penalty and life imprisonment sentences woud be reduced to Ta’zir punishments in the first degree of 20- to 30-year prison sentences.”

"We decided that all cases with Ta’zir-based death penalty and life imprisonment sentences woud be reduced to Ta’zir punishments in the first degree of 20- to 30-year prison sentences.”

He added: “In my opinion, such a decision will have a positive international effect from a human rights standpoint, especially since we come under constant pressure for and are accused of having too many executions in Iran, even though such instances are few; but we believe passage of such a law will be a step forward.”

People of Tehran’s representative continued: “The Bill’s second paragraph provides for the pardon of political and security-related criminals and defendants. A general pardon is within the purview and powers of the legislature and the latter can issue a pardon for certain crimes the same way it can define and determine what acts can constitute a crime. This is, of course, different than a specific or private pardon which is within the powers and competence of the Leader [of the Revolution].”

Fathi noted: “Based on such legal authority, we decided that political convicts, political defendants and those who have committed security-related crimes should be subjected to a general pardon, with certain exceptions and conditions; for instance, that the person accused of a security-related crime has not taken a physically destructive measure such as setting fire to a bank or destroying public property, because those constitute crimes of a different nature. In addition, espionage was also made an exception since this is a heinous crime in the eyes of all nations of the world and those convicted of it usually commit suicide because of the psychological pressure it causes, [which itself is] caused by the severity and enormity of their criminal act, and is followed by the people’s reaction; this is why they prefer to take their own lives and set themselves free of the psychological pressure they’re under.”

"From the standpoint of Islamic law, to mete out the death penalty and life imprisonment for crimes subject to Ta’zir punishments was a defect."

This member of the Majless’ Judicial and Legal Commission emphasized: “In countries with advanced laws [and legal systems], the spies’ actions do not result in a final court ruling and issuance of a sentence, and they usually commit suicide [before a final ruling]; therefore, an exception should not be made for such a filthy crime and it should not be subjected to a pardon. For that reason, we made people convicted of espionage an exception and decided that these individuals must be punished for their betrayal of their country. There are, of course, other conditions that can be modified in the relevant Commission.”

Fathi added: “The Bill’s third part deals with Iranians residing abroad who will be immune from harassment and criminal prosecution upon their return to the country, provided there is no private complaint lodged against them, because a private plaintiff has the right to the protection and support of the law, and the case will be open and pending as long as the plaintiff maintains his/her complaint.”

This member of Majless’ Omid caucus stated: “You might ask, is the entry of Iranians residing abroad into the country a crime? It is not, but because of negative publicity, this false impression has been created that they might face problems upon returning to the country after a few years. What we wanted to say was that that is not the case and that the legislature protects them and insists on their right of entry to the country, provided there is no private plaintiff. Naturally, this rule does not apply to fugitive criminals for whom a final ruling has already been issued.”

This Majless representative added: “In this Bill, we obligated Iranian diplomatic missions abroad to expedite the issuance of passports to Iranians who - for whatever reason - do not have one, so that they may enter the country. As a legislator, I believe we must show this green light to the six or seven million Iranians abroad because there are experts and specialists among them with great capital, and people [inside Iran] have been deprived of their expertise, intellect, and capital. We want to send them this message that we are ready to welcome them. What would be better than to come to their country and put their expertise, intellect, and capital to use for the benefit of the country and the people?”

Stating that the Bill was submitted to the Presiding Board yesterday (Tuesday) and will probably be presented on the floor by next week, this Majless representative said in closing: “I have worked on this Bill for more than three or four months and I’ve tried to consult with various experts so that the Bill can be a well-thought out one. It is of course possible that there is room for amendment and modification of the Bill in the relevant Commission, and we welcome [such modifications] if the they are logical ones.”