Since 1990 Iran has executed at least 46 people convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18. Eight of these executions were in 2008 and five occurred in 2009. [updated 6 Jan 2010]
"The overwhelming international consensus that the death penalty should not apply to juvenile offenders stems from the recognition that young persons, because of their immaturity, may not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions and should therefore benefit from less severe sanctions than adults. More importantly, it reflects the firm belief that young persons are more susceptible to change, and thus have a greater potential for rehabilitation than adults."
Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Iran joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2006. Article 37 of the convention states: “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” Additionally, based on clause 5 of article 6 of the Civil and Political Rights Act, capital punishment should not be an option for those who committed crimes before they were 18.
Note: According to the Sharia (Islamic Law) practiced and imposed in Iran, in the case of murder (first or second degree, and even at times manslaughter), the family of the victim has the final say. They can either opt for qesas, an eye-for-an-eye punishment which would be execution in case of homicide, or forgive the defendant in return for diyeh, or “blood money.”
- Letter from father of Amir Amrollahi, a minor on death row, to the family of the victim (Jan. 6, 2010):
I am giving you my regards with eyes full of tears and a heart filled with sorrow. It has been five years and I still say: I am embarrassed, ashamed, and sorry. I know you are sad. God knows that we are also sad, first for you and then for our son who dies and comes to life a few times a day. You know that my son has developed mental problems in prison and has attempted suicide a few times; his entire body has been injured. You have also heard him saying in the court: “Daddy, let them kill me so I can be freed.”
- An interview with Benyamin Rasouli, a young man rescued from execution (Jan 4, 2010):
Q: Do you think the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for children who commit a crime while they are under 18 years of age?
A: For any child, going to prison in these conditions is a hundred times worse than death. Execution is just one moment. They pull the stool from under your feet, your neck breaks, and you suffocate. However, prison is hell. You go to prison with an accusation; you come out with thousands of diseases and disorders. Over there, weaker kids are subject to all types of abuse. Depression, addiction, and AIDS, each one is 1000 times worse than death.
Read the full interview here.
- The latest victim of applying the death penalty to minors was Mosleh Zamani, who was hanged at Dizel Abad Prison at 4 am, 17 December 2009, along with four other unidentified prisoners. Zamani was 17 when the alleged crime took place.
According to Amnesty International’s information, Mosleh Zamani was convicted of abducting a woman with whom he was allegedly having a relationship, and raping her. His death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in July 2007. He may not have had adequate legal representation.
Amnesty International had also learnt that Mosleh Zamani’s alleged victim had asked that his life be spared, stating that they had had consensual sex. The Appeal Court judge refused to take that into consideration, stating instead that Mosleh Zamani should be executed in order to "set an example" to other young Iranians.
- Dec. 10:
The Iranian judiciary announced a stay of execution in the case of Mohammad Reza Hadadi, a youth sentenced to death for a crime he allegedly committed when he was 15 years old. With his execution originally scheduled for Wednesday, Hadadi had already been transferred to solitary confinement as part of the procedure; however his sentence was withheld at the last moment, probably due to expected harsh international reactions.
Background: Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death in 2004 for a murder he allegedly committed when he was 15. He confessed to the murder, but retracted the confession during his trial, saying he had claimed responsibility for the killing only because his two co-defendants had offered to give his family money if he did so. During the trial he said that he had not taken part in the murder. His co-defendants later supported Mohammad Reza Haddadi’s claims of innocence, and withdrew their testimony that had implicated him. They were both over 18 at the time of the crime and received prison sentences. Mohammad Reza Haddadis death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in July 2005. The execution was first scheduled for October 2008, then 27 May 2009, 16 July 2009, and again for 9 December 2009. Each time the execution was stayed by order of the Head of the Judiciary.
Since 1990 Iran has executed at least 46 people convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18. Eight of these executions were in 2008 and five in 2009.
The execution of juvenile offenders is prohibited under international law, including Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Iran is a state party, and so has undertaken not to execute anyone for crimes committed when they were under 18.
In Iran a person convicted of murder has no right to seek pardon or commutation from the state, in violation of Article 6(4) of the ICCPR. The family of a murder victim has the right either to insist on execution, or to pardon the killer and receive financial compensation (diyeh).