Iran Executes 23-Year-Old Woman

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When Delara Darabi was 17 years old, she confessed to the murder of her father's cousin. She later retracted her confession, claiming that she was trying to protect her older boyfriend by taking the blame.


Darabi's boyfriend allegedly told her to take the blame, as he was 19 at the time, and she was 17. The couple believed that the Iranian government would not execute Darabi, as she was a minor at the time of the crime. Despite protests from human rights organizations, Darabi was executed Friday, after calling her mother and screaming, "Oh, Mother, I see the hangman's noose in front of me. They are going to execute me. Please save me." Darabi's lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, claims the execution took place without family notification or a lawyer present. "She was denied a legal right guaranteed under the law, Mostafaei says, "The hasty execution and the ignoring of legal provisions suggests that some authorities were happy to put an end to her life."

Human rights groups across the world have denounced the hanging: Zama Coursen-Neff of Human Rights Watch calls the execution "an outrageous violation of Iranian as well as international human rights law, and a callous affront to basic human dignity." Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International agrees: "This appears to have been a cynical move on the part of the authorities to avoid domestic and international protests which might have saved Delara Darabi's life." The execution was also condemned by the European Union, who called it "counter to the international commitments that Iran has voluntarily accepted."

Darabi's boyfriend is currently serving 10 years in prison for his role in the murder.

Iran Hangs Woman Convicted Of Murder As Minor [AP]
Rights Groups Denounce Delana Darabi's Execution [LA Times]
Amnesty International Condemns Hanging Of Iranian Woman [CBC]



Here are my death penalty thoughts:

I'm actually not opposed to the death penalty *in theory*, in the sense that I do think there are crimes that make a person deserving of death. Where a life sentence just doesn't measure up to the pain they caused.

HOWEVER, the judicial system is completely incapable of evaluating what justifies death.

Especially, as here, it can't ever be based on JUST a confession. People falsely confess all the time for all kinds of reasons, especially in an oppressive society or in the face of coercive interrogation. It's indefensible to sentence to death when we are not 100% sure - and the justice system is never 100% sure (Even the American standard, beyond a reasonable doubt, is far from 100%)

Even if we had some systematic foulproof way of determining who's deserving, we then face a moral choice: Do we give them what they "deserve" or do we forgive the crime and see if their life will later contribute something positive? For me, it's the latter - always.