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Iran: 16-year-old girl hanged in street for 'acts incompatible with chastity'

Amnesty International is alarmed that this execution was carried out despite reports that Ateqeh Rajabi was not believed to be mentally competent, and that she reportedly did not have access to a lawyer at any stage.

During the trial the judge allegedly severely criticised her dress, harshly reprimanding her. It is alleged that Ateqeh Rajabi was mentally ill both at the time of her crime (having sexual relations outside of wedlock) and during her trial proceedings.

It is also reported that although her national ID card stated that she was 16 years old, the Judiciary announced at her execution that her age was 22. Ateqeh Rajabi’s co-defendant, an unnamed man, was reportedly sentenced to 100 lashes. He was released after this sentence was carried out.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The killing of Ateqeh Rajabi reads like a catalogue of the most appalling human rights violations. The public hanging of a child, believed to be mentally incompetent, after a trial in which she reportedly had no lawyer, and all for the crime of ‘acts incompatible with chastity’. It totally beggars belief.

“The death penalty is cruel and inhumane at the best of times. But to hang a child flies in the face of all that is humane, not to mention Iran’s obligations under international law.”

The execution of Ateqeh Rajabi is the tenth execution of a child offender in Iran recorded by Amnesty International since 1990.

Amnesty International has urged Iran’s judicial authorities to halt further executions of child offenders - people who were under 18 years of age at the time of the offence. This is to bring Iran’s law and practice in line with requirements of international human rights law.

Amnesty International believes that the execution of Ateqeh Rajabi underlines the urgent necessity that Iran pass legislation removing any provision for the execution of child offenders, thereby preventing further execution of Children's rights and bringing Iran into line with its obligations under international law.

The organisation is also urging the authorities to clarify whether Ateqeh Rajabi had legal representation and whether a legally approved doctor deemed her psychologically fit to stand trial.

A bill to raise the minimum age for execution to 18 was reportedly under consideration by the Iranian parliament in December 2003. However, the bill is not believed to have been ratified by the Guardian Council, Iran’s highest legislative body.

As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN 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 years of age at the time of the offence.

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