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UN Experts Urge Halt to Iran’s Executions of Juveniles

Iran has a history of executions for a variety of crimes, and age rarely impacts the choice of sentence. Currently, there are at least 90 people on death row in Iran under the age of 18, according to United Nations human rights experts. They urged authorities to abide with international law and immediately stop these executions. This call comes as two people, one 17 at the time of his sentencing and on 15, were given dates for their executions.

“These executions must be halted immediately and the death sentences quashed. We also call on Iran to commute without delay all such sentences imposed on children,” said Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Mahdi Bohlouli, who was 17 at the time of his sentencing in 2001, was due to be executed on April 19. His execution was halted a few hours earlier but the current status of his execution is unclear. Meanwhile, Peyman Barandah, who was sentenced in 2012 at the age of 15, is scheduled to be executed on May 10.

“These two cases bring the total of juvenile offenders scheduled for execution that we have become aware of in Iran since January to six. They include the cases of two young persons whose executions was carried out,” the experts noted.

In 2013, the Iran penal code was amended to allow the possibility of juveniles sentenced to death to be allowed retrials. Later, assurances were given in 2016 by Iran to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that this amendment would apply systematically for all juveniles who are currently on death row.

In addition, the experts pointed out that by ratifying both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has committed itself to protecting and respecting children’s right to life as well as to outlaw the death penalty for all those under the age of 18.

“These promises have not been fulfilled: Some of the young men executed recently were not even aware of the possibility of retrials, and the requests made by Mahdi Bohlouli and Peyman Barandah for retrial were simply rejected by the Supreme Court,” according to the experts. In other cases, the juveniles were simply sentenced to the death penalty again after being retried.

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