UN: Iran Must Stop Executing Juveniles on Death Row

According to the UN human rights office, Iran has the worst track record on Earth for the execution of juveniles; the rate of deaths in one month alone are in stark contrast to the deaths of five juvenile offenders in one year in 2017.

January 2018 already saw the execution of three minors for crimes committed between ages 15 or 16; a fourth minor received a temporary reprieve for 2 months on February 14.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that capital punishment carried out on minors is forbidden under international law.

He further revealed that “the imposition of the death penalty on people who committed crimes when they were under 18 is in clear violation of Iran’s obligations under two international treaties that is has ratified and is obliged to uphold – namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

In the past 20 years, the numbers of executed juveniles in every other State have not even come close to those of Iran.

The High Commissioner acknowledged that certain aspects of the death penalty and the way it is applied have improved in recent years; most notably the amendments to drug-trafficking laws in October 2017 which meant that drug offenders could be subject to prison time rather than the death penalty.

Given its retroactive applicability, the amendment means that current death row inmates accused of drug offences will have their sentences reduced.

Despite these improvements, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also commented on the discrepancy between genders in Iran’s legal system as “wholly justifiable on every level”; boys are not held to be criminally responsible until the age of 15, whereas girls have been held criminally responsible as young as nine.

The High Commissioner has recommended that the capital punishment of juveniles be absolutely prohibited.

International Human Rights / Humanitarian Law, Middle East

Phoebe Egoroff

Founder and of Jurist International, a website focusing on the latest developments in international human rights and criminal law.

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