Today , Marjan Laghaii the female reporter of Etemaad Newspaper had an interesting interview with Mohammad Ali Ebrahim-Khani the head of Penal Appeal courts in Tehran. Here are parts of this interview:
Q. WILL THERE BE ANY CHANGES (TO STONING LAW):
– As much as possible judges try to use substitute punishments ……but some penalties are fundamental in Islamic sharia laws and the lawmakers are not authorized to change them. But in some other cases they are allowed to make changes in the law. We must distinguish the limits of these two issues. Some of the written laws are God given rights and if you don’t see changes in some laws that is because the the limits of (Islamic) laws are not secular.
Q. ACCORDING TO CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (CRC) WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO EXECUTE PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE AS IRAN HAS ACCEPTED THE CONVENTION, BUT THE JUDICIARY SYSTEM SOLUTION HAS BEEN TO WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE 18 AND THEN EXECUTE THEM, IS THIS THE RIGHT WAY?
– The truth is that we accepted the convetion but not without condition and only if they meet our own Sharia and legal laws…… We should distinguish between the growth and intelligence because growth as a learned behavior is the outcome of the social relations but intelligence is given to human by God and our growth is limited by that many of us have witnessed that a toddler can distinguish between good an bad. What we consider in gauging the penalties is not the growth but level of intelligence. If a person can distinguish between good an bad behavior, how can so/he allow him/her self to take a human life? When a 2 year old can make that distinction why can’t a 15 year old?
Q. BUT HOW CAN WE EXPECT A 15 YEAR OLD TO CONTROL HIS/HER ANGER THE SAME AS A MIDDLE-AGE?
– I didn’t say that a 15 year old to think like an adult, I said to think like a 2 year old. By the way statistics show that the number our under 18 criminals is very low and not even noticeable.
Q. SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION? TO EXECUTE THEM AFTER THEY ARE 18? AT 18 DO THEY HAVE THE SAME INTELLIGENCE AS 3 YEAR AGO?
– We can not definitely say that every person is better than his/her past, for example many had best deeds and although they were expected to become better they descended in character.
Q. EITHER WAY, DON’T YOU THINK WITH RESPECT TO CHILD OFFENDERS WE SHOULD BE MORE COMPASSIONATE?
- What do you think the consequence of such approach would be? For example if we accept not executing those under 18 what is the guarantee that they do not want to force us not to enforce execution for those older than that?
Q- OF COURSE A GUILTY PARTY MUST BE PUNISHED BUT Don’t YOU THINK THAT THEIR CONDITION SHOULD ALSO BE CONSIDERED?
– I am not saying that the written laws can not be changed, but in many subjects the popular wisdom is not applicable. There have been many issues that we thought we were right but then we realized our mistakes. Do you expect us that our national security to be decided by citizens. What is the guarantee that some violators of law would not jeopardize our national security? Don’t you expect us to deal with such people?
Q. BUT A MURDERED WITH PREMEDITATED PLANS IS DIFFERENT THAN A YOUTH WHO DURING A FIGHT UNINTENTIONALLY KILLS SOMEONE.
-Our judicial colleagues study the circumstances of the crime. For example in the case of Nazanin Fatehi, how was she found not guilty despite the fact that initially it was considered a preempted murder. But the other court recognized that the murder was unintentional.
Q. WHY WAS THE DECISIONS ON THE SAME CASE IN ONE COURT TO ANOTHER SO DIFFERENT? FOR EXAMPLE ONE JUDGE GAVE THE EXECUTION ORDER OF NAZANIN FATEHI AND ANOTHER GAVE A NOT GUILTY VERDICT?
– The difference is that in our judicial system, a judge must come to an undoubted decision and until then can not give decision, but in international courts even when doubtful they issue the verdict. Meaning that our judges must achieve 100% and that is why they have say not guilty is our basis. ….meaning the first judged reached the 100% and the second one who issued not guilty arrived at 99%……