Scores of juveniles on death row in Iran: Amnesty

Scores of juveniles on death row in Iran: Amnesty

LONDON – Agence France-Presse
Scores of juveniles on death row in Iran: Amnesty

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Iran is the world’s most prolific executioner of offenders convicted while juveniles, Amnesty International said on Jan. 26, accusing the Islamic republic of using torture and ill-treatment to extract confessions from minors.  

The rights group said Iran “tops the grim global table of executioners of juvenile offenders” with 73 recorded executions between 2005 and 2015, including at least four last year.

“Iran is one of the few countries that continues to execute juvenile offenders in blatant violation of the absolute legal prohibition on the use of the death penalty against people under the age of 18 years at the time of the crime,” said Amnesty’s Middle East deputy director, Said Boumedouha.

London-based Amnesty said most of the known such executions in Iran were for murder, rape, drug-related offences and a national security-related offence known as “enmity against God.”

Iranian judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani said in 2014 that “we have no execution of people under the age of 18.”

Amnesty said Iran never officially announces when a person convicted while juvenile is executed.

U.N. figures released in 2014 showed at least 160 people under 18 on death row in Iran.

Amnesty’s 110-page report gives the names and locations of 49 juvenile offenders currently facing execution.

But it said it believes the real number to be higher than the U.N. figure as “information about the use of the death penalty in Iran is often shrouded in secrecy.”

The group also accused Iran of breaking international law by failing to close a penal loophole allowing a judge to decide that girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 bear full criminal responsibility -potentially exposing them to capital punishment.

It said the report shows that young people condemned to death in Iran spend seven years on death row on average before being hanged - “though in some cases juvenile offenders have spent over a decade on death row.”

“The report paints a deeply distressing picture of juvenile offenders languishing on death row, robbed of valuable years of their lives - often after being sentenced to death following unfair trials, including those based on forced confessions extracted through torture and other ill-treatment,” Boumedouha said.

Although Iran has signed international conventions on child rights and in recent years introduced special child courts, Amnesty urged it to stop sentencing minors to death.