Six prisoners, including one who was a minor at the time of his sentencing, were transferred to solitary cells in Adelabad prison in Shiraz, Iran on Thursday, in preparation for their execution.

Among these prisoners is Aref Rasouli, a 20-year-old young man whose case has underscored a significant ongoing issue: Iran’s persistent violation of international human rights standards by sentencing minors to death.

Rasouli was reportedly born on 25 April 2004, making him 17 years old at the time of his alleged crime. Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO), which reported on his transfer to solitary confinement, has urged the international community and all countries with diplomatic relations with Iran to use every available channel to halt these executions. IHRNGO Director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam stated:

“The international community’s reaction can prevent the execution of Aref Rasouli and the other death row prisoners. Executing child offenders is a flagrant breach of international law and the Islamic Republic’s treaty obligations. The international community shouldn’t allow child offender executions to continue.”

The Islamic Penal Code and Iran’s Breach of International Laws

Executing individuals for crimes committed under the age of 18 contravene international human rights norms, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which Iran has ratified.

According to Iran’s 2013 Islamic Penal Code, the age of criminal responsibility is 15 for boys and 9 for girls. This means they can be sentenced to death for murder and other capital crimes in Iran.

Although the May 2013 update to the Islamic Penal Code allowed judges to replace the death penalty if juvenile offenders lacked an understanding of the crime or their mental maturity was in doubt, Iran persists in imposing such sentences. Amnesty International stated that Iran’s claims of reform of the justice system with the 2013 May are “not reality” and that “little has changed in practice”.

Notably this provision further emphasized Iran’s disregard for meeting its international obligations, which strictly prohibit such sentences for juvenile offenders under any circumstances in the first place.

Even if Iran were to adhere to its obligations under international law, the country’s judiciary faces scrutiny by International rights groups for its track record of sham trials and blatant disregard for due process, with detainees frequently denied legal representation.

Recent Cases of Child Offenders on Death Row Executed in Iran

Earlier this month, 20-year-old Ramin Sa’adat was executed at Miandoab Prison in West Azarbaijan province for a murder he committed at the age of 16, as reported by Kurdpa. Despite Saadat maintaining his innocence throughout his trial, his sentence was carried out on 18 May 2024.

Transparency remains elusive, with Iran withholding crucial data on executions, including those of juvenile offenders. However, as many as 85 juveniles could be on death row in Iran’s prisons as per a 2021 UN report.

Of the juvenile offenders on death row, at least 5 were executed in 2023, as per Amnesty reports.

One of those executed in 20203, was Hamid Azari who not only was sentenced to death when he was a minor, but also executed when he was only 17 years old.

“Hamidreza Azari was arrested when he was just 16 years old and executed less than seven months later after a grossly unfair trial that was expedited by prosecution authorities. The Iranian authorities misrepresented his age as 18 in domestic media to evade accountability for violating international law which prohibits the imposition of death sentences on people under 18 at the time of the crime,” Amnesty stated.

In 2022, at least 3 juvenile offenders were executed on murder charges according to IHRNGO. Of those executed, included Yousef Mirzavand who was sentenced to death for a murder he allegedly committed at age 16.

“His family said he was innocent…someone else committed the murder and Yousef had taken the wrap for it…Yousef was from the Mirzavand tribe in Lorestan…” an informed source told IHRNGO. Mirzavand was executed in Dezful Prison on 26 December 2022.

With the fate of Rasouli and other juvenile offenders including Arvin Ghahremani hanging in the balance, and as advocacy groups continue to sound the alarm, the imperative to confront Iran’s egregious human rights violations grows ever more urgent.

Source » iranintl