Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions A/HRC/14/24/Add.1
para 371
Full recommendation
As we have explained in previous communications to your Excellency’s Government, the
imposition of the death sentence on charges of “mohareb” is highly problematic. We are
concerned that this charge, which according to our information in Iran is directed mainly
against political dissidents, critics of the Government and persons accused of espionage, might
not be sufficiently well defined to satisfy the very strict standards of legality set by Article 6(2) of
the Covenant for the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty. In order for the sentence
of death to be imposed “in accordance with the law”, the law in question must be sufficiently
precise to clearly allow distinction between conduct punishable with the capital sentence and
conduct not so punishable. (See the communications of 31 August 2006 concerning the
imposition of the death penalty against Ali Motirijejad and others (reproduced in
A/HRC/4/20/Add.1, pages 165f), of 26 July 2007concerning the
imposition of the death penalty against Abdolwahed (Hiwa) Butimar and Adnan Hassanpour
(reproduced in A/HRC/8/3/Add.1, pages 210f), and of 18 July 2008 in the cases of Farzad
Kamangar, Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakil.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators 1
In its latest General Comment on Article 6 of ICCPR, the Human Rights Committee explicitly
stipulated that the phrase “the most serious crimes” must “be read restrictively and appertain
only to crimes of extreme gravity, involving intentional killing. Crimes not resulting directly and
intentionally in death […], although serious in nature, can never serve as the basis, within the
framework of Article 6, for the imposition of the death penalty. In the same vein, a limited
degree of involvement or of complicity in the commission of even the most serious crimes, […],
cannot justify the imposition of the death penalty.” 2
The crime of moharebeh (“enmity against God”) is defined under Article 279 of the Islamic
Penal Code (2013) as “drawing a weapon on the life, property or chastity of people or to cause
terror as it creates the atmosphere of insecurity.” 3 It is left to the discretion of the judge to punish
a crime of moharebeh with either the death penalty, crucifixion, amputation of the right arm and
the left leg, or banishment. 4 Although carrying the death penalty, the definition of moharebeh
suggest that it also includes offences that do not involve intentional killing, which therefore

1

CCPR.6.2.S.1
CCPR.6.2.P.1
CCPR.6.2.O.2
2 https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/1_Global/CCPR_C_GC_36_8785_E.pdf
3
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, https://iranhrdc.org/english-translation-of-books-i-ii-of-the-new-islamic-penal-code/
4 The Islamic Penal Code (2013), Articles 282 and 283, English translation, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center,
https://iranhrdc.org/english-translation-of-books-i-ii-of-the-new-islamic-penal-code/

1

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