EU’s top diplomat slams Iran for execution of juveniles

Ashton calls on Tehran to declare moratorium on death penalty; Amnesty International condemns "sharp rise" in public hangings.

Catherine Ashton (R) 311 (photo credit: 	 REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)
Catherine Ashton (R) 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)
BERLIN – Catherine Ashton, the Foreign Affairs head of the 27-member European Union, has slammed Iran for its ongoing executions of juvenile offenders.
“I deplore the public execution of four young men in Bandar Abbas, Iran, last week. At least two of the men were under 18 at the time of their alleged offenses. This stands in clear contravention to Iran’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Ashton in a statement.
She added: “The EU has already expressed its concern over the alarming rate of executions in Iran this year, and condemns the practice of carrying them out in public or by suspension hanging. I reiterate the EU’s call on Iran to declare a moratorium on the death penalty in line with the growing global trend towards abolition of this punishment.”
Amnesty International also blasted Iran for executing adolescents. In a statement from the organization in late April, it expressed outrage.
“Amnesty International has condemned a sharp rise in the rate of executions in public in Iran – which have included the first executions of juvenile offenders in the world this year,” it read. “Since the start of 2011, up to 13 men have been hanged in public, compared to 14 such executions recorded by Amnesty International from official Iranian sources in the whole of 2010. Eight of those executions have taken place since 16 April 2011.”
“Yet again, Iran has distinguished itself by being the only country this year to execute juvenile offenders. No more juvenile offenders must die at the hands of the state,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.
“Not only were these young men executed for crimes committed when under [age] 18, but their executions were carried out in public. Public executions are not only a violation of the right to life, but are a gross affront to human dignity, which cannot be tolerated,” said Hadj Sahraoui. Iran has commenced a wave of executions targeting dissidents and political activists.
In a scarcely reported death, Radio Free Europe and its Persian news program, Radio Farda, noted in late March that Mohsen Dokmehchi died of pancreatic cancer resulting from the lack of medical care, and “was among hundreds of people arrested after the June 2009 disputed presidential election that sparked widespread protests.”
According to Radio Farda, “He was serving a 10-year sentence on charges of supporting the exiled opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran [also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, or MKO].”
While the US State Department lists MKO as a terrorist organization, the EU does not.
John Bolton, a leading foreign policy expert and former US ambassador to the UN, and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have called for the Obama Administration to expunge the MKO from its list as a designated terrorist group.
Iran’s regime has waged a fierce campaign to wipe out the MKO.