The execution in Iran this week of a 21-year-old man for a crime he allegedly committed while apparently still a juvenile shows a deplorable disregard for international law, Amnesty International said.
According to state-run media agency Mehr, Ali (Kianoush) Naderi was executed in Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran on Wednesday.
He had been sentenced to death for his alleged role in the murder more than four years ago - when he was apparently still only 17 years old - of an elderly woman during the course of a burglary.
Those under the age of 18 at the time of their alleged offence are considered to be children under international law and their execution is strictly prohibited
Two other youths involved in the robbery received 15 years’ imprisonment each for theft convictions.
“Ali Naderi’s execution shows Iran’s deplorable disregard for international standards on the death penalty,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“Iran is one of the very few countries in the world where executions of juvenile offenders are still carried out, in contravention of its international human rights obligations.
“The Iranian authorities must immediately end the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders.”
Of the more than 500 people known to have been executed in Iran in 2012, at least one of them was an alleged juvenile offender, who was executed in public in March.
Despite this, the age of criminal responsibility in Iran is still “maturity”, meaning nine lunar years for girls and 15 lunar years for boys.
A state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) since 1975, Iran ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1994. The Committee on the Rights of the Child which oversees the CRC has stated that Iran’s reservation that it would not implement articles contrary to Islamic law “raises concern as to its compatibility with the object and purpose” of the treaty.
Proposed amendments to Iran’s Penal Code, which have not yet come into force, would end the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders for some crimes such as drug trafficking, but not for murder.
In his most recent report in September 2012, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran called on the Iranian authorities to abolish capital punishment in juvenile cases.
In March 2013, Iran’s human rights record will be discussed by the UN’s Human Rights Council. Its continuing high rate of executions and the practice of executing juveniles for murder are two reasons why Iran’s human rights record remains a matter of international concern.