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The Death Penalty: A Punishment that Doesn't End at the Gallows

October 10, 2018

 
 
“They took these guys and killed them, and what happened? Is anyone taking care of their families? Has the country gotten better?”
-  wife of man executed on drug charges in May 2016

 

The term “ultimate punishment” implies finality, that the ending of a convicted person’s life brings a closure and punctuation no other punishment can. But the name deceives: for loved ones left behind, those with a hand in the legal process, and society generally, the nightmare of execution does not end at the gallows.

On the occasion of the 2018 World Day Against the Death Penalty, Abdorrahman Boroumand Center (ABC) debuts a new resource, “The Death Penalty: A Punishment that Doesn’t End at the Gallows,” a collection of untold stories from the overlooked victims of the Iranian judiciary’s policy of capital punishment.
 
They are family members and friends, children and parents, comrades and co-defendants, advocates and cellmates who are made to bear a crushing burden. Their fear, anxiety, trauma, guilt, financial difficulties, shame, and isolation are a hidden, untold cost of capital punishment in a judicial system which has in recent years handed down death sentences at one of the world’s highest rates. Their woes are compounded by the judiciary’s neglect of basic standards of fair trial, due process, and transparency.

 

Their stories include:

  • A woman who experienced the futility of Iran’s war on drugs firsthand after her husband was executed for dealing: Shouldn’t someone come and ask, ‘What is the source of your problems? Why did your husband become a drug dealer?"
  • A woman driven to poverty with a husband in prison, who told him by phone: “Lucky you. I wish I were in prison too.”
  • A young girl who threatens self-harm after her father’s execution: “She would get on the kitchen counter and say 'I’m going to jump off of here and kill myself. Why didn’t you tell me they killed my father?”
  • A family doubly brutalized after the execution of their daughter’s killer left them with a new sense of loss and guilt: "We thought our daughter's killer’s execution would bring us closure, but the day he was put to death was like the day our daughter had been killed."
  • An Afghan woman deeply aggrieved by Iran’s execution of her husband: “Iran made orphans of my children... As long as I am alive I will curse Iran's name."

This World Day Against the Death Penalty, ABC invites you to reflect on the untold stories of capital punishment - a practice which, behind every statistic, leaves broken lives in its wake. By foregrounding the first-person stories and tracing a pattern of trauma and loss, we hope to show that Iranians, and indeed people the world over, deserve better than this ineffective, unjust, and life-shattering punishment.