Iran executes four juvenile offenders in one week
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty strongly condemns the increase in juvenile executions in Iran. According to reports by the World Coalition’s Steering Committee member, Iran Human Rights (IHR), at least six juvenile offenders have been executed this year already, four of them over the past week. This worrying trend has carried on from 2013, which saw at least eight juvenile offenders executed in Iran.
President of the World Coalition, Florence Bellivier, stated: “The death penalty for juvenile offenders is a severe violation of human rights. We call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to stop the execution of juvenile offenders.”
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR, stated: “Repealing all death sentences issued for offences committed before 18 years of age must be one of the principal demands of the international community in dialogues with Iran.”
Iran has executed more juveniles than any country since 1990. At least 50 juvenile executions have been confirmed since 2005 and more than 100 juvenile offenders are currently on death row in Iran.
Juvenile executions are increasingly viewed by the international community as a severe violation of human rights. In 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations moratorium on the death penalty resolution (Resolution A/RES/67/176), with 111 votes in its favour. The resolution calls upon all States “to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and not to impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age”.
This trend is buttressed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which prohibits the use of the death penalty for offences committed by a person under 18 years of age, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which in its Article 6 restricts the use of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes” and forbids its use for crimes committed by persons under the age of 18. Iran has ratified both of these treaties although it has made reservations to the CRC that facilitate the execution of juveniles.
During its last Universal Periodic Review in 2010, however, Iran accepted the recommendation of Belgium to “respect at least the minimum standards and the provisions of ICCPR and CRC concerning the death penalty”. Notably, Iran also accepted the recommendation of Kazakhstan to “consider the abolition of juvenile execution”.
In spite of the substantial weight of international human rights opinion and instruments rejecting this practice, Article 91 of the Islamic Penal Code contains provisions that can be used to execute juveniles if judges deemed that the juvenile was mature enough to understand the nature of the offence.
The World Coalition calls upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to place an immediate moratorium on juvenile executions and honour its obligations under international law. It calls upon the state to ensure that juveniles currently on death row are granted their right to appeal their sentences as provided for under international law and that their sentences be subsequently commuted.