Wednesday , 12 June 2024

Cutting off Fingers for Theft: Iran Continues Controversial Punishment

Iranwire – While Iranian society grapples with the aftermath of the flogging of Roya Heshmati, an activist opposing mandatory hijab laws, the Chief of Justice of Qom province has directed finger amputation of individuals charged with theft. 

The practice of finger amputation persists in Iran despite it being widely condemned as a form of torture under international conventions. 

Questions have risen regarding the rationale behind such actions by the Islamic Republic in the 21st century.

Instances of finger amputation as punishment are becoming more frequent, particularly in major Iranian cities where reports of theft and precarity are on the rise. 

As law enforcement struggles to ensure citizen safety and protect property, the Chief of Justice of Qom province handed down the finger amputation sentence.

During interviews with domestic media outlets, the judicial official detailed the case involving a group of three individuals accused of multiple counts of robbery and theft, utilizing tactics such as breaking into homes at night armed with weapons and employing fraudulent license plates.

Following the completion of investigations, the two individuals were sentenced to finger amputation, as decreed by the Qom Prosecutor’s Office.

The execution of finger amputation sentences in Qom starkly contrasts with repeated calls from international bodies, including the United Nations, urging Iran to cease such practices.

Earlier, the United Nations had urged Iran to halt the implementation of finger amputation sentences for eight prisoners. 

In the summer of 2022, the UN Human Rights Office expressed serious concern over the impending execution of these sentences, calling for a revision of Iran’s criminal laws to abolish practices like amputation, flogging, and stoning.

In 2023, the Iran Human Rights organization, based in Norway, reported on plans to amputate the fingers of seven prisoners in Greater Tehran Prison convicted of theft. 

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the organization’s director, appealed to diplomatic entities engaging with Iran to exert pressure to annul these rulings immediately.

Hasan Fereshtian, a religious scholar and lawyer, emphasized the incompatibility of finger amputation with human dignity, urging its cessation despite its limited occurrence within the Islamic Republic’s judicial system. 

Fereshtian asserted that even one instance of finger amputation is unacceptable and ineffective as a deterrent, as it fails to resonate with societal values of justice and proportionality.

Regarding the persistence of such punishments despite their ineffectiveness, Farshtian highlighted the ideological commitment of the Islamic Republic to Sharia law, viewing its implementation as essential to maintaining identity and legitimacy. 

Additionally, he noted a secondary motive to appease a minority of extremist supporters who advocate for the enforcement of Sharia principles.

Fereshtian raised pertinent questions regarding the application of Sharia law in contemporary Iran. 

He posited two crucial inquiries: Firstly, whether the Sharia law from the inception of Islam remains relevant today, and secondly, whether Sharia law should indeed be enforced in modern Iran.

Fereshtian acknowledged that punishment by amputation holds significance in Islamic Sharia, often cited as a quintessential aspect of its legal framework. 

The scholar underscored the discrepancy between historical context and contemporary morality, denouncing finger amputations as an unjust and degrading punishment incompatible with modern values. 

Moreover, Fereshtian addressed societal stigmatization surrounding theft allegations and the lack of transparency within the judiciary system, which obscures the true extent of finger amputation sentences.