Iranians’ Attitudes Toward the Death Penalty: A 2020 Survey Report

Find here the full English report and methodology of GAMAAN’s survey on Iranians’ Attitudes Toward The Death Penalty – 2020
This study was commissioned by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP).

  • The survey titled “Iranians’ attitudes toward the death penalty” was conducted from September 3 to 11, 2020. Over 24 thousand respondents were surveyed, around 86% of whom lived in Iran.
  • This study’s findings reflect the views of literate Iranian residents aged above 19, who comprise 85% of Iran’s adult population. The results can be generalized to the target population with a 95% credibility level and credibility intervals of 5%. The survey aimed to measure and document the attitudes of Iranians toward the death penalty and related issues, none of which can be openly discussed in Iran due to the current restrictions.
  • The results show that around 44% of the population resolutely oppose the death penalty, and 26% agree with the death penalty in unique cases only (faqat barāy-i barkhī mavārid-i khāṣ).
  • The highest approval rate for the death penalty is for serial murder or massacre (qatl-i ‘ām) with 50% of the population agreeing with the death penalty for these crimes. 32% are in favor of the death penalty for rape, 32% for premeditated murder, 29% for extensive embezzlement and corruption, 18% for espionage and treason, 17% for significant drug trafficking, 11% for kidnapping, 9% for armed robbery and 8% for armed operations against the government. About 14% of the population agree with the death penalty as a punishment mandated by Sharia law (for crimes such as apostasy, blasphemy, and adultery).
  • 68% of the population disagree with the statement that “the death penalty prevents crime and makes society safer” and 67% disagree that “the death penalty brings justice.” Furthermore, 60% believe that the death penalty promotes and normalizes violence in society, and 57% think that the death penalty does not give the victim’s family closure.
  • 62% believe that the judiciary should set the type and length of the punishment for murder, not the victim’s family. 46% also think that the right to life should not be taken, even if the person has committed a crime.
  • 85% oppose the death penalty for offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing murder, and 84% believe that the punishment and diyah (blood-money) should not depend on the victim’s sex (male or female).
  • 86% of the population oppose public executions and 17% of the target population have witnessed public executions.
  • In response to the question, “if a member of your immediate family was murdered, which punishment would you prefer for the killer?” around 48% chose life or long-term imprisonment and 5% said they would prefer to receive the diyah and forgive the perpetrator. In contrast, about 22% chose the death penalty or qiṣāṣ (retribution-in-kind).
  • In response to the question asking what punishment should be given to the former officials of a previous government during a transitional period from an authoritarian government, about 32% agreed with “punishments other than the death penalty” for the perpetrators of massacres, while about 5% agree with a general amnesty (‘afv-i umūmī) and the formation of a truth commission (kumītah-hāy-i ḥaqīqat-yāb). In contrast, 31% agree with the death penalty for former government officials, as long as they are sentenced to death in a fair trial. About 7% of the population agree with the “revolutionary execution” of senior officials of the former government. More than 24% believe that law experts should decide on such a complex subject matter.
  • In response to the question about who should be the final arbiter on the existence or abolition of the death penalty in Iranian law, 69% hold the opinion that the people should decide on the abolition of the death penalty through a referendum. About 17% chose a democratically elected parliament as decision makers, and 14% believe that in an Islamic country, religious authorities should decide on the existence or abolition of the death penalty.

Read the the full English report here

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