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GENEVA May 9, 2019 – UN human rights experts* called on Iran to immediately halt the practice of executing child offenders, citing serious concerns for up to 90 individuals who were all under the age of 18 at the time of their alleged offences and are on death row.
“The executions of two 17-year-old boys last week underlines our concerns that the Iranian authorities continue to give scant regard to international law which forbids executions of minors,” said the experts. “These executions must stop.
“The Iranian judiciary should ensure that the circular requiring judges not to sentence children to death is implemented, and order retrials for all child offenders on death row without recourse to the death penalty in line with international law.”
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javaid Rehman published a report** in March that presented in-depth research on the execution of child offenders in Iran, including a number of targeted and detailed recommendations addressed to the Iranian Parliament, judiciary and other key stakeholders, outlining the steps to bring this practice to an end.
On 25 April 2019, Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat were executed for the alleged crimes of rape and robbery in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, Fars Province. The two were reportedly forced to confess under torture and were also flogged prior to their executions in clear violation of international law.
The offences allegedly occurred when they were 15 years old. Neither the children nor their families were reportedly even aware of the death sentence. Held at a Shiraz child correction centre from 2017, the two boys were transferred to Adelabad Prison on 24 April 2019 and received a visit from their families. The next day, Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization reportedly informed the families that the two boys had been executed, and asked them to collect their bodies.
“We are particularly disturbed by reports that one of the alleged child offenders, Mehdi Sohrabifar, had an intellectual disability and had spent nearly 10 years in a special education centre,” said the UN experts.
“Although evidence of the child’s disability was presented during his trial, the Courts failed to use their discretion to request an assessment of the maturity of the child, in line with article 91 of Iran’s amended Penal Code, in clear breach of his right to a fair trial.”
(*) The UN experts: The UN experts: Ms Agnes Callamard (France), Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms Catalina Devandas-Aguilar (Costa Rica), Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Mr. Dainius Pῡras, Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Ms Renate Winter (Austria),Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child; Mr. Javaid Rehman (Pakistan), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. It also monitors the Optional Protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; as well as a third Optional Protocol which will allow individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights. Learn more:
** See the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran to the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2019 (A/HRC/49/67 paras.72 to 76), available at http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/40/24
UN Human Rights, Country Page: Iran