IBAHRI calls for revocation of scheduled execution of Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali

Thursday 12 May 2022

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to revoke its decision to execute Swedish-Iranian academic and researcher Ahmadreza Djalali. The IBAHRI states that various international fair trial standards have not been met. Consequently, the conviction is unsound.

The execution is reportedly scheduled for Saturday 21 May 2022. The date was announced by Iranian authorities on 4 May 2022, which coincided with the last day of the trial of Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian official, who, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, is being tried in Sweden for murder and war crimes.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, and Immediate Past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr Jur hc, stated: ‘The IBAHRI calls on Iran to revoke the unjust death sentence meted out to Mr Djalali. The IBAHRI is appalled that Mr Djalali’s life will be ended as a result of a vaguely defined crime lacking in legal certainty and numerous fair trial violations. Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It is incumbent upon the country to uphold its commitments to the Articles of the Covenant regarding fair trial standards. However, Iran has violated them at every turn. The ‘‘trial’’ and conviction of Mr Djalali is a misuse of state power in its most blatant form. The conviction should not stand. The absence of fair trial guarantees and due process, including a defendant’s right to a lawyer and the presumption of innocence are basic rights that have been shamelessly flouted by Iran.'

Mr Djalali was sentenced to death in October 2017 by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for ‘corruption on earth’ (efsad-e fel-arz). He had been arrested and detained in Iran in April 2016 while attending several workshops on disaster medicine. He was subsequently convicted on charges of spying for Israel based on a confession that Mr Djalali said was obtained under torture and coercion while being held in prolonged solitary confinement without access to a lawyer. The video-recorded statement was subsequently broadcast on state-run television, violating his right to the presumption of innocence.

In December 2017, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention held that Mr Djalali was arbitrarily arrested and detained in violation of Article 9 of the ICCPR, in part due to the non-observance of international norms relating to a fair trial. In particular, Article 14.3(g) of the ICCPR provides that a defendant must not be ‘compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt’. The UN Human Rights Committee has held that violation of fair trial guarantees in proceedings that result in the imposition of the death penalty renders the sentence arbitrary in nature, and therefore violates Article 6 of the ICCPR – the right to life.

IBAHRI Co-Chair Mark Stephens CBE commented: ‘In 2021 it was reported that the number of death penalty executions carried out was equal to almost one for every day of the year; at least 333 individuals were killed. This figure represented a 25 per cent increase on the previous year. It is completely unacceptable that in the 21st century, the euphemism ‘‘capital punishment’’ remains in any vocabulary and that states continue to put to death their own citizens. In some jurisdictions the state-sanctioned practice of killing a person is incomprehensibly on the rise. The IBAHRI strongly condemns the ongoing, systematic use of the death penalty in Iran and repeats its call to the Iranian authorities to introduce a moratorium on executions and to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR without delay.’

Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran is infamous for its disregard for the rule of law. Reportedly, it is responsible for the majority of death sentences leading to executions in the country.


Notes to the Editor 

  1. On 15 May 2008, the IBAHRI Council adopted its Resolution on the Abolition of the Death Penalty, which considers, inter alia, the clear trend towards viewing the death penalty as a breach of international human rights standards, as well as committing the IBAHRI to actively promoting the abolition of the death penalty.
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  3. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  4. Find the IBAHRI (@IBAHRI) on social media here:
  5. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

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For further information, please contact: the IBA Human Rights Institute at IBAHRI@int-bar.org