Iran death penalty charges in economic crisis ‘breach international law’: Amnesty

Amnesty International on Wednesday expressed “alarm” over arrests of protestors, saying that the application of the death penalty for non-violent crimes would be “in direct breach of international law.” (AFP File Photo)
Updated 01 August 2018
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Iran death penalty charges in economic crisis ‘breach international law’: Amnesty

  • At least 29 people have been arrested for “economic disruption,” Iranian officials announced last weekend
  • The plunging value of the Iranian currency and worsening economic situation has prompted a string of public protests this year

LONDON: Iran’s application of the death penalty to individuals arrested during the country’s economic crisis would be in “direct breach of international law,” the world’s leading human-rights organization has said.
At least 29 people have been arrested for “economic disruption,” Iranian officials announced last weekend, with many facing charges that carry the death penalty.
Amnesty International on Wednesday expressed “alarm” over the arrests, saying that the application of the death penalty for non-violent crimes would be “in direct breach of international law.”
The plunging value of the Iranian currency and worsening economic situation has prompted a string of public protests this year. In an apparent attempt to be seen to be tackling the crisis, officials announced dozens of arrests and blamed unnamed “enemies” for the rial’s decline.
“Amnesty International is alarmed at the judiciary’s announcement that it has charged individuals arrested in relation to the country’s economy and currency crisis with ‘corruption on earth’ (efsad-e fel arz), which incurs the death penalty,” an Amnesty spokesperson told Arab News.


“This would be in direct breach of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the ‘most serious crimes’ — those involving intentional killing. Amnesty International’s research has shown that basic fair trial guarantees are absent in death penalty cases in Iran.”
The statement follows warnings from other campaign groups over the human-rights situation in Iran.
“In recent weeks and months we’ve had many protests,” Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesman for the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group, told Arab News on Tuesday.
“Human rights are suffering … and every day they suffer more. Iran is among the biggest violators of human rights in the world today.”

 


Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh said that the arrests connected to the economic crisis amounted to a PR exercise by the Iranian government.
“The arrests by the regime are mostly cosmetic actions aimed at projecting that the Islamic Republic is taking actions to address corruption and address people’s grievances,” he said.
“The regime is also trying to point (the) finger at some individuals rather than on the systematic financial corruption within the political establishment.”
Amid widespread public anger, demonstrations spread to the historic city of Isfahan on Tuesday, with protesters demanding an end to the Iranian regime’s costly interference in the affairs of neighboring countries in the region.
Video footage showed hundreds of protesters shouting: “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, my soul is Iran’s redemption.” The slogan refers to Tehran’s military adventures in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, at the expense of the domestic economy.
“The protests in Isfahan are significant because they highlight people’s ongoing and growing outrage and frustration with the theocratic establishment, as the economy is in shambles,” said Rafizadeh. “Despite the regime’s crackdown, people continue to take to streets as they can’t make ends meet.”

 

 


Coalition hits back over reported civilian deaths in east Syria

Updated 18 November 2018
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Coalition hits back over reported civilian deaths in east Syria

  • 43 people were killed in the strikes launched by the coalition
  • The US-led coalition has consistently denied reports by the Observatory in recent days

BEIRUT: The US-led anti-militant coalition hit back Sunday at reports its air strikes on a Daesh group holdout in eastern Syria had killed civilians, appearing to blame their deaths on regime forces.
More than seven years into the country’s civil war, multiple offensives have whittled down the swathes of Syrian territory Daesh once controlled to a small pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on the Iraqi border.
A Kurdish-led alliance backed by the coalition is battling to expel Daesh from that holdout, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.
Russian-backed regime forces have been fighting the militants west of the river.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition strikes on Saturday killed 43 people, including 36 family members of Daesh fighters in the village of Abu Al-Husn.
But the coalition denied that its air raids there had killed any non-combatants.
The US envoy for the coalition, Brett McGurk on Sunday appeared to blame regime forces stationed “across the river” for the civilian casualties.
“Reports of civilian casualties attributed to coalition strikes are false. All other forces should cease uncoordinated fires from across the river immediately,” he said on Twitter.
In a statement late Saturday, the coalition reported 19 coalition strikes on Daesh targets “free of civilian presence” between late Friday and Saturday afternoon in the militant enclave, which includes the town of Hajjin.
The coalition’s “initial assessment following the strikes is that there was no evidence of civilians near the strikes,” it said.
But the coalition “detected a total of ten additional strikes in the same area of Hajjin that did not originate from the coalition or partner forces,” it added.
It called “on all other actors to cease uncoordinated fires across the Euphrates.”
The Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor, said regime forces and Daesh fighters exchanged fire across the river on Saturday, but pro-government shelling did not hit Abu Al-Husn.
The US-led international coalition has consistently denied reports by the Observatory in recent days that its air raids have killed civilians.
It says it takes allegations of civilian casualties seriously and investigates each one thoroughly.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of it to offensives by multiple forces in both countries.
On Saturday, Syrian regime forces retook control of the group’s last holdout in the country’s south as the militants retreated into the desert after months of fighting, the Observatory said.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
Since 2014, the US-led coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number much higher.