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Iran: Chief of Judiciary Warns Against Rising Cost of Compensation

(Aug. 28, 2009) It was reported on August 25, 2009, that the head of Iran's judiciary had warned judges against the rising cost to the state treasury of the Iranian system of compensation (Diah). Article 294 of the Islamic Criminal Law of Iran has defined Diah as “the property given to the victim of the crime or the descendants of the victim who are legally entitled to receive blood-money as a result of a murder or loss of limb.” (ABBAS ZERA'AT, QANOONI MUJA'ZA'TI ISLAMI [ISLAMIC CRIMINAL LAW] [in Persian] 93-94 (Tehran-2004).)

Historically, there is no mention of Diah in the Old Testament, but the Bible does have a reference to it. Diah is mentioned twice in the Quran, which is the basis of its application in the Islamic Criminal Law of Iran.

In a recent memo, the head of the judiciary drew the attention of judges and public prosecutors to several articles of the Islamic Criminal Law of Iran in which payment of Diahfrom the state treasury is mentioned. In particular, the judicial official states that judges should carefully study cases in which payment of Diah may become a state liability. As an example, he cites the Law on the Mandatory Insurance for Civil Liability of the Owners of Land Motor Vehicles Against Third Persons, which requires that an independent fund be set up to compensate the victims of injuries caused by uninsured vehicles.

Although the question of Diah has been discussed as part of the Islamic Criminal Law of Iran, it is generally agreed among the various Islamic schools that Diah is not a punishment, but a civil liability that must be paid by the state treasury in cases when payment by the individual is not possible. (Chief of Judiciary Warns Judges Against Rising Cost of Compensation (Diah) to the Treasury [in Persian], HAMSHAHRI ONLINE, Aug. 25, 2009, available at; ABBAS ZERA'AT, supra, at 463-643.)