09 Feb- According to Human Rights Watch, three child offenders were executed in Iran last month. Despite numerous human rights organisations calling on Iran to immediately put an end to this practice, the regime still continues to use the death penalty on children who committed a crime before the age of 18.
Human Rights Watch named the three young people that were executed in January as Amirhossein Pourjafar, Ali Kazemi and Mahboubeh Mofidi. They were executed for crimes they allegedly committed when they were 16, 15 and 13 years old respectively.
Amirhossein Pourjafar had signs of a “conduct disorder” according to his lawyer and he had spent time in a mental institution during his time in prison. Despite this, he was still executed.
Ali Kazemi was executed in Bushehr prison on 30th January for an alleged murder charge from when he was 15-years-old. The authorities had previously promised to halt the execution according to the Imam Ali Society (an NGO in Iran that deals with social problems with a focus on children). His lawyer, Shahriar Khoramdel, said that judges involved with the trial would not allow him to be seen by a forensic doctor to see if he was able to understand the nature of the crime committed.
Mahboubeh Mofidi was executed on the same day in Nowshahr prison in Mazandaran province. She got married when she was 13-years-old and she was sentenced to death for allegedly murdering her husband at the age of 17.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the organisation’s Middle East director, said: “Iran seems intent on erasing any positive impression gained from modest reforms to its drug execution laws last year by hanging several child offenders in a bloody start to 2018. When will Iran’s judiciary actually carry out its alleged mission, ensuring justice, and end this deplorable practice of executing children?”
Despite being a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran continues to execute child offenders. Iran’s penal code amendments also state that child offenders should not be executed for certain crimes. Article 91 of the code gives judges discretion to not impose the death sentence if the child was too young or immature to understand the consequences and nature of the crime being committed.
Amnesty International has indicated that between 2014 and 2017, there have been at least 25 individuals executed in Iran for crimes that they committed when they were minors.
Human Rights Watch calls on the Iranian regime to put an end to the death penalty and to move towards abolishing all forms of capital punishment in the country. Whitson said: “Iranian authorities often claim they are treated ‘unfairly’ by the international community for their human rights record, but they only hurt their case when they have the shameful distinction of leading the world in executions for crimes committed by children.”
As well as carrying out executions, Iran continues to use medieval methods of punishment such as the amputation of limbs and lashing. There is no place for such cruelty and the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its actions.