International watchdog urges Iran to stop execution of three Kurdish teenagers

Amnesty International said on Friday that Iran must immediately halt the execution of three teenagers found guilty of crimes that were committed when they were under the age of 18.

One teenager was found guilty of waging war against God, allegedly under torture including electric-shocks and the two others were found guilty of murder.

“The Iranian authorities must act quickly to save these young men’s lives. Failing to stop their execution would be another abhorrent assault on children’s rights by Iran,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

International human rights law strictly prohibits the application of the death penalty for offenders under the age of 18 when the crime was committed.

Iran is often criticized by the UN and the international organizations for human rights violations. The Islamic Republic is one of only four countries known to have put child offenders to death since 2013. The United Nations Secretary General reported in early 2015 that “at least 160 juvenile offenders were reportedly on death row at December 2014.”

One of the teenagers, Shayan Saeedpour stabbed a person to death in August 2015 when he was 17 while under the influence of alcohol. He surrendered at a police station voluntarily and was sentenced to death in October 2018.

“Shayan was under the age of 18 when he committed murder, his lawyer and we were shocked when we heard the Supreme Court had upheld the ruling,” Shayan’s father Salahaddin told Human Rights Activists News Agency, HRANA, a respected Iranian human rights organization on February 17. “Shayan had no understanding of what he had done…moreover he was under the influence of alcoholic drinks when he committed the crime.” He was also sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking alcohol.

The second teenager Barzan Nasrollahzadeh was 17 when he was arrested and later found guilty of ‘enmity against God’ which carries the death penalty. He says he was tortured by the agents of the intelligence ministry during his pre-trial detention including being suspended upside down and electric shocks applied on his body.

The third teenager Mohammad Kalhori was 15 when he was arrested in late 2014 for the alleged stabbing of one of his school teachers. He was found guilty of murder in March 2016 and sentenced to three years in prison on the basis that he did not have a ‘mental growth and maturity.’ But the decision was overturn by the Supreme Court in January 2017 and his family have been told that he would be executed soon.

Under international and internal pressure in 2013 Iran revised its Islamic Penal Code limiting the execution of minors. However article 91 still allows the judges to pass the death sentence in the case of a minor. If offenders “under eighteen years do not realize the nature of the crime…or there is uncertainty about their full mental development…” the death penalty does not apply but the court “may ask the opinion of forensic medicine or resort to any other method that it sees appropriate in order to establish the full mental development.”

“Instead of sending more juvenile offenders to the gallows the authorities must commute all death sentences and immediately reform Iran’s Penal Code to abolish the use of the death penalty against all those who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime,” Saleh Higazi of Amnesty said.
“This should be a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.”

Source » rudaw

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