Iran: Child offender faces execution in next few hours

Amnesty International has just learned that 18-year-old musician Sina Paymard, who was sentenced to death in Iran for a crime committed when he was just 16 years old, may be executed within the next few hours.

Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme, said:

"Should this execution be carried out it would be in complete violation of international law.

"It would also be a morally unjustifiable, abhorrent act carried out by a government against one of its young citizens.

"The Iranian government must take immediate steps to halt this execution."

Sina Paymard, a musician, was nearly executed in September last year for murder. On the gallows, Sina's last request was to play the ney (a Middle Eastern flute) for the last time. The family of the victim was so moved by his playing that they granted him a last minute reprieve. Instead, they asked for 150 million toumans (over $US 160,000) as compensation. Sina's family, however, has not been able to raise the full amount.

Background

Iran continues to have one of the highest rates of executions in the world. Amnesty International has recorded at least 124 executions since the beginning of 2007, suggesting that by the end of this year the total number of executions could exceed the total of 177 executions that Amnesty International recorded in 2006.

Two recent victims of the Iranian authorities' use of the death penalty were child offenders, whose alleged crimes were committed before the age of 18, and a third was a man who was stoned to death. The two child offenders -- Mohammad Mousavi and Sa'id Qanbar Zahi -- were executed in April and May respectively, in direct contravention of international law, which requires that no-one should be executed for crimes committed while under the age of 18.

While Amnesty International recognises the right of governments to bring to justice those suspected of serious crimes, it opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

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