Iran: Two child offenders reprieved hours from execution

At least eight other executions set to go ahead today

Responding to a late reprieve for two child offenders due to have been executed today in Iran, Amnesty International has called for the reprieves to be the first step towards putting an end to what it called “the obscene practice” of juvenile executions in the country.

Behnoud Shojaee and Mohammad Feda’i were both granted a one-month reprieve from execution yesterday by Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, Head of Iran’s Judiciary. They had been accused of premeditated murder in separate cases and sentenced to qesas, or retribution, for which the penalty is death - though both had claimed that they did not intend to kill. They had already been moved to solitary cells prior to execution.

Amnesty International has meanwhile received news of at least eight other executions due to take place today in Tehran. The basis for their conviction is unknown. Amnesty International is also concerned about reports that Saeed Jazee, a third child offender now aged 21, faces execution on 25 June.

Amnesty International said:

“We call on Iran to end, once and for all, such executions, including those of at least 85 other juvenile offenders on death row.

“These juveniles should not have been sentenced to death in the first place, when Iran has given its word by signing international treaties banning executions of Children's rights.”

Last year at least 335 people were executed in Iran - including seven child offenders - the second highest figure anywhere in the world.

Amnesty International has longstanding concerns with Iranian trial procedures that fall short of international standards. In a recent letter by Mohammad Feda’i, he said that while in detention, officials kicked and tortured him, to the point that one night he agreed to sign a confession without knowledge of its content.

He wrote: “I am a 21 year old, a young man, who was only 16 when he entered prison. Like any other teenager, [I was] still living my childhood dreams”. “I was beaten and flogged repeatedly […] They hanged me from the ceiling [and] left me with no hope of living. “

Amnesty International recognises the right and responsibilities of states to bring those suspected of criminal offences to justice in fair proceedings, but opposes the death penalty in all cases.

Amnesty International added:

“We call on Iran’s leaders, its judiciary and its new parliamentarians to ensure that Iran joins the global trend away from the use of the death penalty, powerfully expressed in the UN General Assembly’s resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions on 18 December 2007.”

Background
Since 1990 Iran has executed at least 30 juvenile offenders, seven of them in 2007 and at least one in 2008. Amnesty International is aware of at least 85 juvenile offenders currently on death row and fears there may be many more.

Under Article 206 (b) of Iran’s Criminal Code, murder is classed as premeditated “in cases where the murderer intentionally makes an action which is inherently lethal, even if [the murderer] does not intend to kill the person.”

Amnesty International has issued “Urgent Action” appeals (which give more case information) on Behnoud Shojaee and Mohammad Feda’i:

Behnoud Shojaee:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/066/2008/en/df156937-1dd3…

Mohammad Feda’i:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/074/2008/en/84c50240-2e5e… br />

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