October 19, 2008

Iran Backtracks on Vow to Cease Juvenile Executions

Washington, DC – Iran’s state media outlet announced Wednesday that the practice of executing juveniles will be ended. Additionally, juveniles who had been sentenced to death and are awaiting execution would have their sentences commuted to life with the possibility of parole. “Offenders under the age of 18, no matter what their offence is, will not be subject to executions but will receive other punishments according to the law” said Hussein Zebhi, judicial deputy of the Prosecutor General.

The Iranian judiciary later backtracked and said that only executions for drug offenses will be ended.

Iran ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994 which explicitly forbids the practice of executing juveniles, however executions have continued in Iran to such an extent that Tehran is the world’s leader in the practice. In 2004, the judiciary proposed effectively ending the practice of execution for minors; however it was largely ignored by judges and officials. Within recent years, Iran has come under increased scrutiny by human rights organizations for this gross human rights abuse, among many others.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Amnesty International have urged the judiciary to pass legislation on this pledge so as to solidify its legality. “The next and urgently needed step is for the parliament to act on this issue and abolish the death penalty for children through legislation,” Ghaemi said. The 2004 directive was not backed up by subsequent legislation.




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