By Omid Memarian
Iran has executed 191 people in 2008, including four juveniles.
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 29 (IPS) – A week after the execution of two juvenile offenders in Iran, who were under 18 at the time of their crime, a coalition of human rights organisations is urging the Iranian parliament to move swiftly to ban such executions.
The groups include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, along with six other international and regional human rights organisations — Iran Human Rights; the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI); Penal Reform International; Stop Child Executions; and Viviere — strongly condemned Iran’s continuing execution of juvenile offenders in a joint statement Tuesday.
“Iran is executing several children every year, despite the fact that it is banned under international law,” the organisations said. “It is cruel and inhumane to apply the death penalty even to adults, let alone to those convicted for crimes committed before the age of 18.”
“The execution of juvenile offenders is subject to an absolute prohibition in international law. This is testimony to the world’s repugnance towards this practice,” Drewery Dyke, a researcher with Amnesty International in London, told IPS. “It is high time that Iranian judicial officials and other leaders heed the concerns of the many jurists, lawyers and human rights activists in Iran who repeatedly call on the authorities to end the practice of executing juveniles and find a way to having Iran uphold its international legal commitments.”
Iranian authorities executed Hassan Mozafari and Rahman Shahidi on Jul. 22, along with an adult offender, Hussein Rahnama, in the southern city of Bushehr. The Bushehr Criminal Court had convicted them of rape, together with another juvenile offender, Mohammad Pezhman, and two other adults, Behrouz Zangeneh and Ali Khorramnejad. Iranian authorities executed Pezhman in May 2007 and the two other adults in October 2007.
“Mozafari and Shahidi’s executions are extremely disturbing,” Clarisa Bencomo, Middle East and North Africa researcher in the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, told IPS.
“The fact that the families of murder victims pardoned two other juvenile offenders just days before these latest executions only underlines how arbitrary the Iranian justice system is,” she added. “Iranian authorities should stop making excuses and change their laws to ensure that no one is ever executed for a crime committed when under 18.”