An Amnesty International report released on Monday slammed Iran’s “hypocrisy” over scores of youths “languishing on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18.”
The human rights organization said its report, Growing Up on Death Row: The Death Penalty and Juvenile Offenders in Iran, has “debunked” attempts by Iran’s authorities to cover up such violations.
“The report debunks recent attempts by Iran’s authorities to whitewash their continuing violations of children’s rights and deflect criticism of their appalling record as one of the world’s last executioners of juvenile offenders.”
Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, spotlighted the legal sticking points.
“This 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,” Boumedouha said.
“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.”
The report added that in recent years, Iranian authorities have “celebrated” changes to the country’s 2013 Islamic Penal Code that allow judges to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment based on a discretionary assessment of juvenile offenders’ mental growth and maturity at the time of the crime.
“However, these measures are far from a cause for celebration. In fact, they lay bare Iran’s ongoing failure to respect a pledge that it undertook over two decades ago, when it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to abolish the use of death penalty against juvenile offenders completely,” the report stated.
It states that Iran, as a state party to the CRC, is “legally obliged to treat everyone under the age of 18 as a child and ensure that they are never subject to the death penalty nor to life imprisonment without possibility of release.”
However, Amnesty International’s report lists 73 executions of juvenile offenders which took place between 2005 and 2015. According to the U.N. at least 160 juvenile offenders are currently on death row. The true numbers are likely to be much higher as information about the use of the death penalty in Iran is often shrouded in secrecy, the report added.