Scores of youths in Iran are languishing on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18, said Amnesty International in a new report published Tuesday.
The report, according to Amnesty, debunks recent attempts by Iran’s authorities to whitewash their continuing violations of children’s rights and deflect criticism of their appalling record as one of the world’s last executioners of juvenile offenders.
Growing up on death row: The death penalty and juvenile offenders in Iran reveals that Iran has continued to consign juvenile offenders to the gallows, while trumpeting as major advances, piecemeal reforms that fail to abolish the death penalty against juvenile offenders.
“This report sheds light on Iran’s shameful disregard for the rights of children. 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 Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“Despite some juvenile justice reforms, Iran continues to lag behind the rest of the world, maintaining laws that permit girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 to be sentenced to death.”
In recent years, the Iranian authorities have celebrated changes to the country’s 2013 Islamic Penal Code that allow judges to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment based on a discretionary assessment of juvenile offenders’ mental growth and maturity at the time of the crime.
However, according to Amnesty, these measures are far from a cause for celebration. In fact, they lay bare Iran’s ongoing failure to respect a pledge that it undertook over two decades ago, when it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to abolish the use of death penalty against juvenile offenders completely, says Amnesty.
[ Also Read: How India Abuses Children’s Right to Education ]
As a state party to the CRC Iran is legally obliged to treat everyone under the age of 18 as a child and ensure that they are never subject to the death penalty nor to life imprisonment without possibility of release.
However, Amnesty International’s report lists 73 executions of juvenile offenders which took place between 2005 and 2015.
Photo courtesy: Amnesty International