Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions A/HRC/14/24/Add.1 para
471

Full recommendation:
I therefore urge your Excellency’s Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee that
no one is executed on the basis of a judgment finding him or her guilty of moharebeh, that all
death sentences imposed on charges of moharebeh are reviewed, and that the death penalty is no
longer imposed on charges of moharebeh.

Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators 1
A. The right not to be deprived of life arbitrarily.
Article 22 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran stipulates “The dignity, life,
property, rights, residence, and occupation of the individual are inviolate, except in cases
sanctioned by law.”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 Judges have discretion to punish a crime of
moharebeh with the death penalty, crucifixion, amputation of the right arm and the left leg, or
banishment.4 Although allowing for the death penalty, the definition of morahebeh suggests that
it also includes offences that do not involve intentional killing, which therefore cannot be
considered as “most serious crime” under international law and cannot receive the death penalty.
5 Additionally, terms such as ‘terror’, ‘atmosphere of insecurity’ or ‘national security’ are not
defined under the Islamic Penal Code. Further, under Article 220 of the Islamic Penal Code and
Article 167 of the Iranian Constitution, a judge may refer to Islamic law – namely authoritative
Islamic sources and fatwas (a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority) –
to convict and sentence individuals to crimes and punishments not explicitly codified by the law.
The Human Rights Committee explicitly stipulated that the imposition of the death penalty
cannot “be based on vaguely defined criminal provisions, whose application to the convicted
individual would depend on subjective or discretionary considerations the application of which is

1

CCPR.6.2.S.1
CCPR.6.2.P.1
CCPR.6.2.O.2
2 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b56710.html
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/
5 https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/1_Global/CCPR_C_GC_36_8785_E.pdf

1

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