The Challenges of Decriminalization and Their Resolutions

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  • RAHIM NOBAHAR,  Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.
  • Mohammad Ghaffari, Ph.D. Candidate in Criminal Law and Criminology, Islamic Azad University, South Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran.

Decriminalization is often accepted in different criminal law systems due to its philosophical-moral foundations. However, less attention is paid to the challenges of decriminalization. The aim of this article is to defend decriminalization in a framework while evaluating its challenges. There are some bases that support decriminalization. Among them are inefficiency of criminalization in controlling criminality, insistence of Human Rights and Islamic teachings on minimum interference in the rights and freedoms of citizens and the necessity of morality development through the elimination of external restrictions and coercions. Decriminalization, meanwhile, may violate the rights of victims and defendants. According to the findings of this research, it is possible to overcome these challenges through providing non-criminal sanctions such as civil, administrative and insurance ones in order to protect victims. There is, also, room for generalizing the rules of fair trial to non-criminal cases. Therefore, decriminalization is not only acceptable with regard to unnecessary crimes, but also necessary in some cases.

Keywords: decriminalization, Social control, Criminal Matters, Victim’s Rights, Defendant’s Rights.

The full Persian version of this article is published in Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, volume 8, issue 15, Summer and Autumn 2020, pp. 53-74.

The Challenges of Decriminalization and Their Resolutions (

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