The Role and Place of Public Opinion on the Death Penalty for Drug Crimes in Iranian Criminal Law by Behzad Razavifard and Mehraban Bolourian

Abstract

Public opinion is regarded as one of the main factors determining the severity of actions taken by the judiciary towards criminals. Its role is also being emphasized in the criminal policy, either criminalization, penalization or sentencing. Negative consequences of death penalty, especially its brutalization effect on society, numerous international conventions related human rights and considerable public opposition to the capital punishment by reason of its ineffectiveness as a deterrent factor have caused some challenges on the national and international levels. Based on “Death Sentences and Executions Report by Amnesty International (2019), Iran remains as the fourth executing country within the Middle East and North Africa particularly for drug-related crimes. The situation has made it imperative to revise and amend the current approach. The present article is based on the field research and interview with jurists/lawyers, judges of Islamic Revolutionary Court, psychologists, peoples and families of the executed persons. The results show that the capital punishment for drug-related crimes (75 percent of the total recorded executions) doesn't have a deterrent effect and has not decreased these crimes’ rate. Additionally, it has been revealed that these crimes are rooted in socio-economic issues that could be tackled through improving employment rate, the eradication of poverty, also with quality education and skills training. Furthermore, from the public viewpoint, replacing alternative sanctions to capital punishment, it not only reduces the risk of recidivism but also contributes to their rehabilitation and social reintegration. According to the survey conducted for this paper, the death penalty is considered to be against human rights and thus, other alternatives have been proposed based on a constructive approach to this issue.

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