Knesset child’s rights panel head: West hypocritical for courting Iran as it executes minors

Report released last week, titled “Growing up on death row: The death penalty and juvenile offenders in Iran,” calls the Islamic Republic the world leader in executing people under 18.

January 31, 2016 17:04
3 minute read.
us embassy iran

Iranian students hold pictures of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in front of an anti-US mural, painted on the wall of the former US Embassy in Tehran. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The West, despite its purported defense of human rights, is embracing a regime that executed 73 minors in the past decade, Knesset Committee for the Rights of Children chairwoman Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu) said Saturday night, citing a new report on Iran from Amnesty International.

“The Amnesty report is further proof of the Western world’s hypocrisy – most of all that of the US – which presents itself as a defender of human rights, but embraces the representatives of a country whose laws allow it to execute nine-yearold girls,” Shasha-Biton said.

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“Iran was and continues to be a dangerous country to the world and to its citizens. This danger must be fought, not embraced,” she added.

The report released last week, titled “Growing up on death row: The death penalty and juvenile offenders in Iran,” calls the Islamic Republic the world leader in executing people under 18.

Amnesty reported that Iran put 73 minors to death between 2005 and 2015, including four in 2015, and cited UN data stating that at least 160 offenders under age 18 are awaiting execution.

Among the cases Amnesty mentioned was Janat Mir, a 14- or 15-yearold Afghan boy accused of drug offenses and denied access to a lawyer or consular services. His parents did not know his whereabouts for months, until Mir was able to call to say he had been sentenced to death, and they were called again the night before his execution to ask them to collect his body, which they were not allowed to transfer to Afghanistan and could only bury in a cemetery selected by the authorities.

Human rights groups say Afghan minors and others are often charged as adults, if they are unable to present birth certificates.

Another case was Makwan Moloudzadeh, a Kurd who was sentenced to death for anal rape at age 13 and executed at age 21, although he said he had been tortured and forced into confessing, and the boys who had accused him of rape said they had lied or had been forced to complain.

Iranian law allows a retrial for minors sentenced to death, after assessing their mental maturity, but Amnesty found the proceedings to be lacking. For example, Fatemeh Salbehi was executed in October 2015 for murdering her 30-year-old husband, whom she was forced to marry at age 16, after being re-sentenced to death following a retrial that lasted only a few hours and a psychological assessment limited to questions such as whether or not she prayed or studied religious texts that said killing someone was forbidden.

In many cases, Amnesty reported, the offenders are not informed of their right for a retrial.

Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program deputy director Said Boumedouha said the report “sheds light on Iran’s shameful disregard for the rights of children. Iran is one of the few countries that continues to execute juvenile offenders in blatant violation of the absolute legal prohibition on the use of the death penalty against people under the age of 18 years at the time of the crime.”

“Despite some juvenile justice reforms, Iran continues to lag behind the rest of the world, maintaining laws that permit girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 to be sentenced to death,” Boumedouha added.

“Instead of introducing half-hearted reforms that fall woefully short, Iran’s authorities must accept that what they really need to do is commute the death sentences of all juvenile offenders and end the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders in Iran once and for all.”

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