World Coalition Against the Death Penalty Press Release
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty denounces the new decision of the Iranian government to continue sentencing juvenile offenders to death for murder. It deplores that Iran went back on its first statement and urges the Iranian government to respect its international commitments and to completely abolish capital punishment for juvenile offenders regardless of the offence allegedly committed.
On October 16, following Ayatollah Shahroudi’s circular, Hossein Zabhi, the Assistant Attorney General for Judicial Affairs in Iran announced that no one under the age of 18 would be sentenced to death any longer, irrespective of the type of crime allegedly committed. Such a circular, however, is not legally binding and its application remains unsure as it happened in the past for the circular banning stoning.
Iran ratified both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child years ago. They both prohibit the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under age 18 at the time of the offence.
Three days later, Hossein Zabhi went back on this statement and distinguished between murder and other offences punishable by death under Iranian law such as rape, theft, drug trafficking, or adultery. He explained that capital punishment for murder was the victims’ family responsibility to decide («qisat»). Iranian law treats these cases as private disputes between two civil parties, where the state facilitates the resolution of the dispute. The victim’s survivors retain the right to claim retribution in kind, or to pardon the killer.
Iran is currently the only known country in the world where executions of juvenile offenders took place in 2008, at least 6 executions this year according to Amnesty International.
In 2007, at least 8 juvenile offenders and 317 people were executed in Iran. At least 140 juvenile offenders are still believed to be on death row in Iran according to the organisation Stop Child Executions.
The majority of juvenile executions in Iran are for intentional murder or for ‘hadd’ crimes including adultery, incest, rape, sodomy, or homosexuality according to Human Rights Watch.
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The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty
Created in Rome in 2002, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty brings together 75 bar associations, trade unions, local governments and non-governmental organizations. It aims at strengthening the international dimension of the fight against the death penalty and at contributing to put an end to death sentences and executions.
Amnesty International and Stop Child Executions are both members of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.