Legal and Criminal Analysis of Child Executions in Iran: A Report of the November 2017 Meeting of the Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights
On November 14, the Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights’ monthly meeting convened at Tehran’s Welfare Organization’s Convention Hall to discuss the subject matter of the event, Legal and Criminological Analysis of Child Executions in Iran.
A number of senior law professors, lawyers, and children’s rights activists participated in this conference where they discussed and analyzed existing Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and other laws regarding execution of children.
First, Motahareh Nazeri, Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights’ chairperson of the board of directors, referred to the Society’s legal activities and stated that since its inception, the Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights had made great efforts in promoting the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, and that one of the Society’s primary goals had been to influence [passage of] laws promulgating the condition of children, and revising laws related to children. One example of this influence was the passage of the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents of 2002, in which 9 of the Society’s 12 proposed Articles were passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly (“Majless” or Parliament). Another example was the revision in the age of the child where custody is granted.
Since its inception, the Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights had made great efforts in promoting the International Convention on the Rights of the Child
Nazeri stated that one of the Society’s other activities is its efforts to prevent the issuance and the implementation of death sentences for children who were under the age of 18 at the time of the commission of the crime. In certain cases, these children are executed once they reach the age of 18 pursuant to the court’s ruling, whereas, pursuant to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, individuals under the age of 18 are children, and the issuance of the death penalty and life imprisonment sentences have been prohibited as to these children.
She pointed out that, in addition to existing international documents, pursuant to Article 91 of the Islamic Penal Code of 2013, which is a relatively progressive piece of legislation, the issuance of a sentence of Qesas (“Retribution”) and Hadd punishments (“Divine punishments”) for individuals under the age of 18, is subject to their understanding the nature of the gravity of the crime and their level of intellectual maturity at the time of commission of the crime. “[However,] we witness the issuance and implementation of death sentences in crimes committed by children in spite of the provisions of Article 91”, she stated.
In the next portion of the conference, the documentary film “Life in the Shadow of Death” was shown. This documentary provided a very clear and transparent accounting of the conditions of children on death row.
In the next portion, Mr. Farajollahi (honorable justice on the Supreme Court), Mr. Emadeddin Baqi (sociologist), Dr. Farahbakhsh (attorney at law and university professor), and Dr. Farajiha (criminologist and university professor) began the legal and psychological analysis of child executions.
There is disagreement, however, about what is to happen when a girl is 11 years old and shows no sign of puberty. The legislature has provided for three phases: 12 to 15 years of age, 15 to 18 years, and under 12 years old. Adolescent responsibility constitutes, in effect, reduced responsibility, not [complete] lack of responsibility.
Article 91 must be examined in conjunction with Article 120: If the individual does not know the wrongfulness of the act or is incapable of determining the nature of the act, or lacks intellectual development and maturity, as determined by the [Office of the] Medical Examiner, that individual will be exempt from Hadd or Qesas punishment.
As we know, lack of knowledge of the law is not accepted [as a defense] and the law has provided for that.
There have been cases where an individual had two children and his birth certificate showed him to be under the age of 18, and he had committed murder. The court had applied Article 91 to him without investigating the matter. So we see that Article 91 is helpful in cases where we see different factors contribute to an adolescent committing a crime such as murder.”
He dismissed certain claims made regarding the sentencing of adolescents for commission of first degree crimes in other countries and said: “What they say about children not getting a life sentence anywhere in the world is wrong. In France, an adolescent convicted of murder is sentenced to 30 years [to life] and cannot even ask to be paroled between 15 and 21. And regarding execution in general, the death penalty is still implemented in many states in the United States. Therefore, we are not the only ones faced with this challenge. One country has life in prison, another country has the death penalty. But our laws and our Fiqh consider awareness and knowledge as the necessary conditions to prove the crime, and punishment will be handed out only if it is proven.”
He emphasized: “Of course, the problems that plague our criminal justice must be removed through dynamic Ijtihad (“exegesis of Islamic law”) because on the one hand, we are faced with Fiqh and Shari’a rules, and on the other, with developments in criminology which better reflect the realities of society.
Today, there are few young people who do not pack a knife in our society, because they are greatly influenced by TV shows and police movies. Our education system is another culprit. In families that have a sound, religious upbringing, the crime rate is lower; the rate of violent crimes and immoral crimes is lower among those who have a higher commitment to moral, cultural, and religious principles.
Article 91 is an innovation in the Islamic Penal Code, and Articles 155 and 217 make provision for [the perpetrator’s ability] and knowledge to understand, distinguish, and determine [the nature of his/her actions].
If the court has any doubts as to whether a young person had knowledge that killing a human being was wrong and whether the person has reached the level of maturity and intellect to understand the effects and consequences of his/her action, then Article 91 can [be of help and] provide guidance. But when the judge [expressly] asks an adolescent accused of murder whether he/she knew his/her action constituted intentional murder, and the adolescent responds in the affirmative knowing [full well] the punishment for that act, then how could there be any doubt as to the judge’s ruling, [which is now something] that causes some people to accuse judges of lack of attention and thoroughness?”
Next, Dr. Mojtaba Farahbakhsh (attorney at law and university professor) who represents several cases of under 18 defendants accused of murder on a pro bono basis, stated “the death penalty has a deplorable situation in Iranian society; we love the death penalty”.
He said: “One must not compare the death penalty to other punishments such as life imprisonment, since these two punishments have a profound difference. Witnesses with experience and those sentenced to death are the ones who say this, and this is a significant piece of evidence.”
Stating that punishment means inflicting pain and suffering on a person, and that it is a moral issue, he added: “Currently, it seems that social necessities have pushed us toward this social punishment. We must not believe that this [punishment] is valid [just] because it has thousands of years of precedence.”
Farahbakhsh stated that in cases such as the “Setayesh” murder case, public opinion strongly leans toward punishing criminals like Setayesh’s murderer. He said: “We were witnessing a whirlwind of demands for the application of the death penalty, but the fundamental question is, [what is going on in our subconscious, and] what assumptions do we have in our subconscious that makes us want to resort to the death penalty?
What follows from that line of argument, [is for us to say that] nothing will happen if a juvenile offender is eliminated from society. And when you ask “why must he die”, they say that his life has little value compared to [the harm he has inflicted on society].”
This Shahed University faculty member said: “The death penalty is the product of the old world and belongs to a time where humanity had not [engaged in critical thinking]. The death penalty is a product of presumptions such as absolutism because we think we are the sole holders of truth and we alone are capable of finding truth.”
“The death penalty is the product of the old world and belongs to a time where humanity had not [engaged in critical thinking]. The death penalty is a product of presumptions such as absolutism because we think we are the sole holders of truth and we alone are capable of finding truth.”
He pointed to the reasons for considering the death penalty as legitimate and said: “From an epistemological standpoint, we think that man has free will and is in complete control. I call this the “highway perception” of free will. New sciences have, however, a “byway perception” of free will, that is, that human beings are very limited when it comes to free will and man cannot free and save himself from the environmental and non-environmental factors and elements, whereas our judicial tradition considers man as having free will.”
Farahbakhsh stated that in ancient times, the death penalty was not considered to be a concrete [physical] phenomenon but a metaphysical one, and added: “They thought that the death penalty was the battle between good and evil and that [through it, the person executed] would be freed of evil.”
This attorney at law said that the organic outlook on society was another reason for considering the death penalty as self-evident, and added: “In ancient times, an individual had meaning within the collective. Individualism came later. But that [archaic] belief is still with us and we still think that society has priority over the individual.”
This Shahed University faculty member considered perfectionist beliefs about government as another such presumption, and said: “What existed in ancient times was a perfectionist view of government, and governments were after making perfect beings out of citizens. [What follows from] this [particular] discourse is that government can do to its citizens what it cannot do in other discourses. Once the role of government is reduced from that of [seeing itself as] the master to being the servant, those perfectionist views will no longer [be able to] keep their standing.”
Farahbakhsh said that the “dual” perception of man is among the assumptions that play a role in considering the death penalty as self-evident. He explained: “In ancient times, we were dealing with the concepts of the “perfect” and the “imperfect” man, that is, a framework within which man [is classified] in terms of levels. In the modern world, a human being is a human being, and the biological definition of a human being suffices for the purposes of the law.”
He also alluded to the teleological view of man in ancient times and said: “In ancient times, they used to say that man must ultimately [reach perfection] and if he does not, he has no inherent value. If we adhere to this viewpoint, then we allow ourselves to eliminate anyone we consider without value.”
Farahbakhsh criticized the lack of a humanistic perspective in the law and said: “It appears that we have become slaves to the law, that is, the law, which is supposed to be at the service of mankind, uses terminology (and lawyers use parlance) that regular people do not comprehend. We must understand that the law is nothing but a tool [at our service] but [the problem is that] people don’t understand the language of the law. There is no humanism in the law, and it is [precisely] the humanistic perspective that makes the law human.”
This attorney at law talked of a simplistic view of man and said: “Lawyers and jurists are not familiar with the science of psychology, and their perspective is a simplistic [and reductionist] one. They do not know about the complexities and the labyrinthine consciousness of human beings. A human being grows in the course of a [lengthy] process, and it is possible to change one’s personality at any given point in time. Today’s criminal can become a better person tomorrow.”
This Shahed University faculty member talked about the right to life: “Life is the law’s ultimate purpose. All personal rights create this life. The Citizens’ Rights Charter states that all citizens have the right to life unless the law provides otherwise. One must ask the drafter: What is this sentence? This is an insult to [the right to] life because the law is not allowed to take life so easily; the phrase should include [conditions] such as ‘unless in extraordinary and urgent circumstances’ and ‘where other punishments will not do’.”
“Lawyers and jurists are not familiar with the science of psychology, and their perspective is a simplistic [and reductionist] one... A human being grows in the course of a [lengthy] process, and it is possible to change one’s personality at any given point in time. Today’s criminal can become a better person tomorrow.”
He said that assumptions must constantly [be re-evaluated] and not be regurgitated. He explained: “Assumptions are with us constantly, but they may not be of [and by] us: They could be [the result of] suggestions by the family, the school [system], etc., and must constantly be [thought about and] doubted.”
Pointing to fallacious reasoning in support of the death penalty, he said: “There are 12 instances of fallacious reasoning in support of the death penalty in Iranian society. For instance, regarding execution of a drug trafficker, the judge’s argument is that the drug trafficker has wreaked havoc on the youth. This is false reasoning and it is called ‘fallacious single factor analysis’. There are many such fallacious reasonings in support of the death penalty in our criminal justice system.”
Farahbaksh considered interpretation of the laws an art form and continued: “Principles of interpretation is one of the most important courses in legal education. We must have a thorough and comprehensive perspective when we want to interpret a law. Furthermore, we must incorporate a reform and rehabilitation mindset where juvenile crimes are concerned. Articles 409 and 410, as well as Articles 203, 286, and 287, are brimming with these rehabilitative ideas. That’s the mindset the Rules of Procedure and the legislature want to adopt regarding children’s rights.”
He stated that there are certain contradictions between Article 91 and Articles 120 and 121 of the law: “Mental development and maturity is an important issue that must not be interpreted in light of Article 120. What the legislators meant by mental development and maturity was for the child to have the same power of discernment as an adult; it does not mean that the child must be mentally challenged; what one must ascertain is whether the child has the same experience and understanding of the world as an adult or not.”
He pointed to questions asked by judges of juvenile offenders based on Article 91, in order to prove his/her knowledge and understanding of the crime, and said: “You cannot ask the juvenile whether [he/she knows if] something is Haram (“prohibited by Islam”) or not, but must rather ask ‘what is your view about life and death? What is a human value?’ They must be asked questions about moral values.”
"What the legislators meant by mental development and maturity was for the child to have the same power of discernment as an adult; it does not mean that the child must be mentally challenged; what one must ascertain is whether the child has the same experience and understanding of the world as an adult or not.”
This Shahed University faculty member criticized the evaluation of mental development and maturity by psychiatrists and said: “[Ascertaining] mental development and maturity is not a psychiatric concept. Mental development must be ascertained by a judge. [In many cases,] most psychiatrists say that an individual who has committed a crime has no mental issues [but that is not the point]. That is why the judge must convene a committee composed of psychologists and psychiatrists, and ultimately decide the question himself.”
Farahbakhsh said: “As soon as there is doubt as to the individual’s lack of mental maturity, that itself is sufficient to fulfill [the requirements of] Article 91 and no further proof is needed. Judges do not pay enough attention to this, however. Both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on [Civil and Political Rights] are part of the Iranian legal system. We cannot become signatories to these conventions and subsequently not abide by and implement them.”
Farahbakhsh said human life had great value and criticized the way criminals were treated. “Most murders by juveniles are committed suddenly and in a state of excitement and agitation,” he said. “That’s why what we see at the Center for Reform and Rehabilitation (juvenile correction centers) is that these children do not show any bad behavior. We must, therefore, re-evaluate the assumptions that lead us to the execution of juvenile offenders.”
In closing, he stated that from a children’s rights and an international law perspective, the death penalty has no credence, and added: “When we join the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we are bound to perform our obligations thereunder. It has become part of our legal system and Iran’s reservation is invalid from a legal standpoint. If Iran wishes to state a reservation, it must specify exactly when and for purposes of which articles it will act in accordance with Islamic Shari’a and domestic law.”
Next, Emadeddin Baqi (sociologist) who has published writings on the subject matter of the conference, criticized the fact that in spite of having joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran continues to implement the death penalty for juvenile offenders under the age of 18, and said: “There are various religious, cultural, and legal reasons for this but the main problem lies in the lack of adequate laws, traditional Fiqh thinking, lack of accurate statistical information about the cases of those condemned to death, and lack of resources.”
In the conference on the “Legal and Criminological Analysis of Child Executions in Iran”, Emadeddin Baqi alluded to extensive research that has been conducted on the death penalty and the execution of child offenders under the age 18 in Iran, and said: “The right to life is the foundation of human rights. In spite of the fact that Iran has joined the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it continues to both issue and implement death sentences for individuals under the age of 18.”
According to him, various cultural, religious, and legal factors affect the situation. Baqi said: “In my opinion, there are four principal challenges that we need to pay attention to on this subject: Lack of adequate laws, traditional thinking, lack of accurate statistical information about the cases of those condemned to death, and lack of resources.”
He added that he faced a lack of Fiqh (religious jurisprudence) sources when he tried to conduct a research about under 18 executions. Baqi stated: “Most religious legal scholars whose help I sought said that they could not deduce anything other than what existed in the laws from our traditional Fiqh. We also face a shortage of resources where the new sciences are concerned. Currently, the subject of ‘convict criminology’ is among issues regarding criminal [law and criminology] in the world that have yet to cross the borders into Iran. ‘Convict criminology’ means that we look at crime from the perspective of convicted criminals.”
This social activist criticized the lack of psychological discussions in judicial matters and the judges’ inattention to such issues, and added: “Some judges think that a mentally disabled and insane individual must appear before them in shackles, whereas subjects such as ‘temporary insanity’ have prevailed in [criminal justice systems across] the world for years, caused by situational factors which can result in an individual experiencing [this form of insanity] in a single moment. Therefore, [these judges] have no notion and understanding of [the concept of] temporary insanity.”
Alluding to a research [project he] conducted before 2007, he said that he was not able to obtain a publishing permit from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance that year, and the book was later published in Egypt in Arabic. He stated: “This book contained 14 Fiqh and legal rules evidencing the prohibition and sacrilegious nature of the executions of individuals under the age of 18. Based on my research, I believe that our traditional thinking about the death penalty is fundamentally flawed. Additionally, concepts such as ‘proof positive and custom’ tell us that when there is a common perspective about a particular issue among Moslems across the world – among whom are certainly strong believers and religious scholars – then that common perspective is proof positive.”
He added: “Currently, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is among international documents to which all Islamic countries have acceded, and 22 of 57 Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia and Oman, have made reservations thereto. But it is interesting and bears mentioning that while Saudi Arabia and Oman have declared reservations to the Convention, they considered it in line with Islamic Shari’a. It is also interesting to know that the death penalty and Qesas have been abolished altogether in almost two thirds of the countries of the world, or if they exist in their laws, they are not implemented. Execution of individuals under the age of 18 is among punishments that are not implemented in any other country in the world except Iran, and this is severely shocking; [it is] something that even Saudi Arabia officially does not do.”
He pointed out that according to research conducted in the last decade, about 145 death sentences were either issued or implemented in Iran in a ten-year period.
This sociologist alluded to equating the age of maturity for punishments resulting from attaching criminal responsibility, with the age at which [religious duties and] prayers become obligatory. He explained: “One of the problems is that the age of maturity (puberty) is the standard. There is fundamentally no balance between the age of maturity for religious duties and that for punishments. It is obvious that you cannot take Qesas on a child, but the dispute is as to who is considered a child. The more important issue concerns those between the ages of 15 and 18.”
This social activist stated that even if we consider the age of maturity/puberty to be the benchmark, there is no such thing as a set age for maturity/puberty, and it varies. He added: “The age of maturity/puberty varies according to geographical locations, nutrition, welfare, etc. Even the Koran has not set a specific age for the age of maturity. When the question comes up in the Koran, it talks about the maximum age for maturity and it set it at 40.”
Stating that mental maturity does not mean development, Baqi added: “The main criterion is being mature and developed; it is not to have a child that has committed a crime answer routine, run-of-the-mill questions. Being [intellectually] developed means being able to discern. In today’s world, we have complex tests to determine whether a person is intellectually developed or not, but as I said about the issue of lack of resources, we do not have access to [these tests]. There are four principal challenges that we need to pay attention to on the subject of the death penalty: Lack of adequate laws, existence of traditional thinking, lack of accurate statistical information about the cases of those condemned to death, and lack of resources.”
This sociologist criticized the chaos existing in our laws regarding the age of maturity and explained: “In our laws, the age of 18 has been set for things like getting a driver’s license but when it comes to implementing punishments, that age is lowered, whereas in Scandinavian countries, for instance, they set the age at 21 just to be on the side of caution; yet there is no agreement about this issue in our country.”
“In our laws, the age of 18 has been set for things like getting a driver’s license but when it comes to implementing punishments, that age is lowered...there is no agreement about this issue in our country.”
Stating that Article 91 has entrusted the judge with the task of dispensing punishment to juvenile offenders, this social activist added: “The question of doubt that came up regarding this Article goes far beyond the simple questions the judge may ask a child. It can therefore be said that crimes committed while the offender was under the age of 18 are fundamentally among the instances of doubt provided for in this Article. Where children are concerned, instead of considering things on a case by case basis (as to whether there is doubt in a particular case or not), we should consider all cases of crimes committed by juvenile under the age of 18 as instances where doubt is [automatically] present.
One might say that there are individuals under the age of 18 who have developed sufficient powers of discernment. In response to these people, [I will say this:] across the world, laws are written based on the majority of cases, not the exceptions. An individual might be a genius at the age of 12, but you cannot write laws based on an exception.”
Baqi alluded to the principle of convenience in Shari’a and said: “That rule requires for Qesas not to be carried out based on Fiqh principles when there is any doubt as to the implementation of Qesas.”
He also pointed to the primacy of the prohibition of child execution in human rights documents and added: “Even in wars, children, women, and the elderly must not be subjected to aggression or be killed. And that’s not where this rule ends. According to the requirements of our traditional Fiqh, even female and child soldiers are immune from aggression, arrest, captivity, and execution. This begs the question: In circumstances where children who have even participated in war cannot be taken captive or killed, how can we justify issuing death penalties against children when there is no war going on?”
Next, Dr. Mohammad Farajiha, criminologist and university professor, the Conference Secretary and one of the panelists, stressed the importance of the “restorative justice” approach in dealing with juvenile crime and said: “Currently, we have a court that deals exclusively with juvenile crime but there is no substantive difference between this court and other courts in terms of how trial sessions are run, nor is there a psychology-based understanding of the child and the child’s environment. Certain judges even consider sitting on the bench in juvenile court as demeaning.”
Stating that there is currently a space for putting forth the concepts dealing with “restorative justice”, he explained: “Restorative justice means the process through which criminals, crime victims, and members of the local community actively cooperate with each other and try to find solutions for problems resulting from crime with the help of facilitators.”
This university professor stressed that “we are not looking to determine the punishment in the restorative justice approach, but are rather looking at crime as a social problem that we must strive to remedy and find a solution to.”
This university professor said that the same things that go on in adult prisons are going on at the Center for Reform and Rehabilitation. He continued: “We think we’ve done a wonderful thing by separating children and adults, but we have, in effect, the same approach regarding both. It will therefore make no difference to simply delay punishing a juvenile offender. Currently, we have not conducted any research to find out what difference there is between the harm a child suffers in prison compared to an adult.”
Noting that differential policies show no distinctions whatsoever in practice, he said: “Most institutions have entered the legal realm with symbolic perspectives, and there is no difference in terms of their philosophy and standpoint regarding crime. The differential aspect manifests itself in restorative justice and in most countries; it is mandatory to refer juvenile cases to restorative venues, because once an individual is sent to prison and labeled a criminal, it makes no difference what happens after that anymore.”
Farajiha considered the issuance of a Qesas sentence (the death penalty) for most juvenile offenders as discriminatory and explained: “Cases addressed by the Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights, are mostly cases of juvenile offenders belonging to society’s indigent classes. Although children belonging to upper classes also commit crimes but their situation is different because of their families’ social and financial means, access to good lawyers, and the judges’ perception that once released, they will not commit crimes again because of the family’s supervision and control, whereas most judges think poor children will commit crimes again upon release.”
"Children belonging to upper classes also commit crimes but their situation is different because of their families’ social and financial means, access to good lawyers, and the judges’ perception that once released, they will not commit crimes again because of the family’s supervision and control, whereas most judges think poor children will commit crimes again upon release.”
This university professor criticized the fact that, pursuant to the provisions of Article 91, mental and intellectual development and maturity does not have defined parameters and an [official] authority that [makes determinations in that regard], and added: “If we had a system with adequate guarantees in place, part of the problem would be solved. For instance, by classifying murders, we could exempt excited [heat of passion] killings from death penalty. Under these conditions, interpretation of Article 91 can help us and make up for some of the existing voids.”
Alluding to society’s desire to address and end juvenile crime through restorative and rehabilitative mechanisms, this criminologist stated: “Many NGO’s and lawyers have the desire to intervene in the Qesas of children and we must use [their assistance]. One must not forget that although even the Koran considers forgiveness as a higher act than Qesas [or revenge/retribution]; however, there does not exist in our courtrooms an atmosphere that is conducive to promoting negotiation and conversation.”
Pointing to the challenges facing “restorative/rehabilitative justice”, he continued: “Pursuant to Article 82 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, only 6th, 7th, and 8th degree crimes can be referred to mediation mechanisms. In other cases, even though there is a possibility of ‘forgiveness’ in the law, the legislative has not expressly recognized those cases. All cases of intentional murder committed by either children or adults, the private aspect of the crime that can [be the basis for] Qesas, is referred to mediation.”
Farajiha asked: “Do we seriously expect the forgiveness of the victim of a crime to happen in the contentious environment of a courtroom? Many of these juvenile offenders either have no attorney, or their court-appointed attorney does not have a serious desire to pursue their case. Some of these lawyers further complicate matters by raising issues such as the murder victim having insulted the murderer, or that the murder victim intended to rape them [in front of the victim’s family]; bringing up these issues in the courtroom in front of the victim’s parents/next of kin destroys the chance of conversation and restorative justice.”
This university professor stated that the Rules of Criminal Procedure must be modified and Rules of Restorative Justice must become mandatory, and added: “We must not just wait and see what organizations engaged in the defense of children’s rights do.”
This criminologist alluded to the criminal justice system’s situation regarding the assessment of the functioning of judicial units and said: “The restorative justice process is time consuming and the legal system must not be such that a judge who has restorative thoughts and leanings be reprimanded at the end of the month for not having closed enough of the cases referred to his court.”
This university professor stressed that restorative justice is not simply obtaining the victim’s family’s forgiveness, or reducing punishment: “What restorative justice wants to do is remedy the mental and psychological harm inflicted on the crime victim. We must ascertain how much attention we pay to the victim’s family’s concerns when we engage in the processes to obtain their forgiveness. At times, [payment of] many times the Diah (“blood money”) [due to them] becomes a bazaar and a business, whereas in the restorative justice process, individuals are supposed to get closure through conversation.”
"At times, payment of many times the blood money” due to them becomes a bazaar and a business, whereas in the restorative justice process, individuals are supposed to get closure through conversation.”
He said: “A review of the developments in the criminal justice system indicates that we are entering a new era. In criminology parlance, we call these developments ‘adaptive responses’. In the past, the emphasis was more on ‘crime denial’ policies; in other words, the country’s justice system attempted to restore security in society through the criminal justice system, amplification of punishments, and heavy-handed police and judicial policies.”
This criminologist explained: “Simultaneous with recent developments, we are entering an era where “adaptive responses” are being used. In this era, the government and official bodies are letting go of their previous positions and are focusing their attention on the role of society, the cooperation of civil society, and putting their emphasis on mechanisms for restoring order and security; they believe that the key to fighting crime lies more in society itself rather than the criminal system.”
Farajiha said: “Today, the safest countries are not the ones with the toughest criminal systems. Studies show that, on the contrary, countries with the harshest levels of punishments and the highest rates of prisoners are the most unsafe. Currently, there are no empirical data to prove the idea that one can attain security using this approach.”
He alluded to the developments in rules of criminal procedure throughout the years and continued: “New mechanisms have been devised in the law for the defense of defendants’ rights, mechanisms that are unprecedented. For instance, criminal procedure laws completely disregarded the protection of victims of crime but the new laws protect the rights of crime victims and their privacy. Official recognition of the people and civil society are among other developments in this area.”
This university professor considered the limits put on the use of the death penalty for drug-related crimes as another development in criminal procedure laws and said: “Providing for “adaptive policies” regarding children and adolescents is indicative of the criminal justice system entering a new era.”
Stating that in the past, the efficacy of the death penalty was based more on literary and philosophical perspectives, he added: “We are now faced with viewpoints based on real statistics and data and we can study various countries to ascertain whether the abolishment of the death penalty has resulted in a decrease or an increase in crime. These assessments indicate that the objectives intended by criminal justice interventions were not attained.”
“We are now faced with viewpoints based on real statistics and data and we can study various countries to ascertain whether the abolishment of the death penalty has resulted in a decrease or an increase in crime. These assessments indicate that the objectives intended by criminal justice interventions were not attained.”
At the conclusion of the conference, Nazeri summarized the viewpoints of the conference participants by stating that existing Fiqh and legal sources are indicative of the possibility of non-issuance and non-implementation of death sentences for individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time of the commission of the crime. She further stated that the ideal of children’s rights activists is adherence to the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and non-issuance of the death penalty to children. The conference ended with a question and answer session.