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Controversial public executions in Iran draw crowds

Though the arguments for public executions and punishment are not always religiously strong, they continue to be used, with the spectacles drawing big crowds.
The body of Iranian serial child killer Mohammad Bijeh hangs in the town of Pakdasht, south of Tehran March 16, 2005. Dubbed the 'vampire of the Tehran desert' by local media, Bijeh was sentenced to death for killing 17 children, most of them young boys he raped first, and three adults. He began to prey on children more than two years ago but the killings did not come to light because many victims were from illegal refugee families from neighbouring Afghanistan who were afraid to come forward. Pictures of t

The punishment of criminals in Iran is sometimes carried out in public. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, has reported several cases of public execution and the humiliation of criminals. According to his March 2013 report on human rights in Iran, Shaheed "joins the [UN] Secretary-General’s view that 'executions in public add to the already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty and can only have a dehumanizing effect on the victim and a brutalizing effect on those who witness the execution.'"

However, public executions constitute a small percentage of all executions in Iran, as is the case with criminals being publicly flogged or humiliated. In a recent case, three thieves were given 74 lashes in public. These occurrences have become more common and intensified since the launch of a police operation targeting petty criminals some eight years ago. In some cases, male criminals were stripped in public and forced to wear women’s clothing or have a toilet ewer hung around their necks.

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