News of the execution of a sixteen-year-old girl in northern Iran, first broken by Iran Focus, has been met with shock and outrage around the world. In a press statement on Monday, Amnesty International expressed outrage at the execution of Ateqeh Sahaleh on Sunday, August 15, in the town of Neka in Mazandaran Province. Several human rights groups have contacted Iran Focus to express alarm over the report and asked for more details on the case.
Ateqeh Sahaleh was hanged in public on Simetry Street and Rah Ahan Street at the city center after a sham trial, in which she was accused of committing acts incompatible with chastity. The teenage victim had no access to a lawyer at any stage and efforts by her family to retain one were to no avail. Ateqeh personally defended herself. She told the religious judge, Haji Rezaii, that he should punish those who force women into adultery, not the victims. The judge used harsh words to scold her for the way she had dressed.
Ateqeh's national ID card stated that she was 16 years old. The judiciary, however, claimed falsely that she was 22.
The sentence was issued by the head of Nekas Justice Department. The judiciary chief in Mazandaran sent the case to the Supreme Court, were it was subsequently upheld with the approval of Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi.
Rezaii, the religious judge who issued the original sentence, personally pursued Ateqehs death sentence, beyond all normal procedures. He personally put the noose around her neck as she was taken to the gallows. After Ateqeh was hanged, Rezai said her offense did not call for execution, but that he had her executed for her sharp tongue.
On the same night that she was buried, Ateqeh's corpse was removed from the grave by unknown individuals.
The unidentified man who allegedly had an affair with Ateqeh, was sentenced to 100 lashes. He was released after this sentence was carried out.
As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran is bound not to execute child offenders. Both treaties provide that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons under 18 year of age at the time of committing the offence.