Iranian child offender faces execution in next 72 hours, warns Amnesty

Photo of Behnam Zare’ available from Amnesty press office

Amnesty International today (6 February) warned that a young man in Iran aged only 15 at the time of his offence will be executed in the next 72 hours unless urgent action is taken. The order to carry out his execution has been sent to the prison where he is held.

Behnam Zare’ has been convicted of a murder committed when he was 15 years old. Now aged 18, Behnam has been detained in Adelabad prison, in the south-western city of Shiraz, since his arrest. Amnesty is urging people to take action to help save Behnam at www.amnesty.org.uk/deathpenalty

Behnam Zare’ is one of at least 71 child offenders currently on death row in Iran. The country continues to execute child offenders – people under the age of 18 at the time of their offence – despite the practice being strictly prohibited under international law. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has twice urged Iran to stop executions of child offenders, yet since 1990 Iran has executed at least 24 such offenders.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This is a sickening case. Executions are always dirty affairs, but when the intended victim is so young it is crueller still.

“Public pressure can make a real difference in cases like this and we really hope enough people will join our campaign to save Behnam.

"The Iranian authorities must step into line with the rest of the world and end the shameful practice of executing child offenders.”

The murder reportedly took place on 21 April 2005, when Behnam Zare’ swung a knife during an argument with a man named Mehrdad, wounding him in the neck. Mehrdad later died in hospital. Behnam Zare’ was detained on 13 November 2005; Fars Criminal Court sentenced him to qesas (retribution) on charges of premeditated murder. 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.” The case went to appeal before the Supreme Court where the sentence was upheld.

Around 11 August 2007, Behnam Zare’s family were reportedly asked to seek a pardon from the victim’s family, who reportedly refused to grant one.

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