Iran: Call to spare lives of four child offenders facing execution

Amnesty International and over 20 international and regional human rights organisations have called on the Iranian authorities to spare the lives of four child offenders facing execution in the country.

The joint appeal, issued from Geneva, also called on Iran to stop imposing death sentences on child offenders (those aged below 18 at the time of their alleged crime), a penalty that flouts an absolute international prohibition on the death penalty in such cases.

Two of those facing execution are Behnoud Shojaee and Mohammad Feda’i, due to be executed on Friday 11 July. Both were originally set to be executed on 11 June, but received last-minute, month-long reprieves to give them more time to seek pardons from the families of their victims.

At least two other child offenders - Salah Taseb and Sa’eed Jazee - are also at risk of execution in the coming days. According to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran, Salah Taseb, who was convicted of a murder committed when he was 15, has been transferred from the Children's rights’s prison to the main prison in Sanandaj soon after his 18th birthday. He may be executed before the end of the Iranian month of “Tir”, which ends on 23 July, although a spokesperson for the Judiciary Alireza Jamshidi said on 1 July that the case remained subject to appeal.

The other condemned man, Sa’eed Jazee, who was due to be executed on 25 June, reportedly had his execution postponed for a month. He was convicted of the murder of a 22-year-old man, which took place in 2003 when he was 17 years old.

Almost 140 juvenile offenders are known to be on death row in Iran, but the true figure could be even higher. For example, on 10 June Iran executed a 16-year-old Iranian Kurd called Mohammad Hassanzadeh for a crime committed when he was 14. Hassanzadeh’s case had not even been known to campaigners prior to his execution.

Amnesty International said:

“The use of the death penalty against those who committed their offences while under the age of 18 is a gross violation of customary international law, no matter what age the person has reached at the time of their execution.

“Iran should immediately commute all death sentences against child offenders and cease all such executions.”

In 2007, only two other countries besides Iran - Saudi Arabia and Yemen - executed child offenders. Since 1990, Iran has executed at least 30 child offenders, including seven last year and two so far this year.

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