Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Iran world leader executing juveniles

Human rights groups have declared Iran the world's leader in executing child offenders, despite the last-minute repreive granted to two young men in late September.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced on 23 September that Iran had executed "more juvenile offenders in the last five years than any other nation".

It said 14 juvenile offenders were known to have been executed in Iran since 2001, including at least one in 2006 and eight in 2005. About 30 juvenile offenders remain on death row in the country.

Sina Paymard was scheduled to be hanged on 20 September, two weeks after he turned 18. "According to Paymard’s lawyer, the sentencing court did not properly consider evidence that Paymard suffered from a mental disorder," HRW said.

Nineteen year old Ali Alijan was also scheduled to be executed.

Both men were convicted of murders committed when they were under 18 years old. They were reportedly spared after the families of the victims exercised their right under Islamic law to seek blood money instead of the death penalty.

HRW said Paymard was granted a repreive "after he was granted a final request to play the ney, a Middle Eastern flute". Press reports said his playing affected the people present to witness his execution, including members of the victim's family.

Clarisa Bencomo, children’s rights researcher for HRW, said: "Although these two youths were spared by last-minute acts of mercy, Iran has earned the dubious distinction as the world leader in executing child offenders."

"The Iranian authorities should abolish this repugnant practice at once," she said.

Piers Bannister, coordinater of Amnesty International's death penalty team in London, told IPS News: "Iran is the only country which still executed minors in 2005."

"The international community has recognised that children are special and require special attention," he said. "The world is united on this matter."

Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have urged Iran's parliament to pass proposed legislation that would prohibit the use of the death penalty for crimes committed under the age of 18.

Iran has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, two key international human rights standards that prohibit the execution of child offenders -- people who were under 18 years old at the time of the crime.

HRW said only three other countries -- the United States, China, and Pakistan -- were known to have executed juvenile offenders since 2001. It said Pakistan had conducted two executions, including one this year, and China had executed two.

The United States executed five juvenile offenders between 2001 and March 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the death penalty for juveniles.

No comments: