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Monday 24th of June 2019

Press Room

Still Disregarding International Law, Iran Prepares To Execute Another Juvenile Offender

Wednesday 5th of June 2019 | Asia, Iran
Iran News Update
News

It has been reported in recent days that another person is facing execution in the Islamic Republic of Iran despite having been under the age of 18 at the time of his alleged crime. Danial Zeinulabedini was charged alongside three other men for a murder that reportedly took place in September 2017, when Zeinbulabedini was still 17. He has maintained his innocence in subsequent proceedings, but regardless of his role in the incident, international law technically bars the Iranian judiciary from imposing capital punishment on persons who have not attained the recognized age of majority.

Contrary to international standards, Iranian law allows for boys to be considered legally responsible at the age of 13, and girls at as young as nine. Consequently, the Islamic Republic is one of only five countries in the world that have been known to carry out death sentences on juvenile offenders since the year 2013. During this period, Iran itself has executed at least 42 such individuals, even though 2013 was marked by legal reforms that allow judges to use their own discretion in determining whether a youthful offender was sufficiently mature and fully aware of the consequences of his or her actions at the time of the crime.

In practice, few judges make use of this provision, and even when juvenile offenders’ cases are sent for review in line with Article 91 of the Islamic Penal Code, death sentences are almost invariably upheld. In most such cases, the review evidently emerged from sustained international pressure led by well-known human rights groups like Amnesty International. This pressure and the resulting review process have resulted in the delay of a number of juvenile executions. But then again, the judiciary has been known to impose such delays on its own, sometimes keeping death row inmates in prison for years after they have turned 18, in an apparent effort to defray some of the inevitable outcry.

Iran’s theocratic regime is well aware of its human rights obligations under international law. It has long since signed onto two documents – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child – which specifically bar juvenile executions in all circumstances. However, the Islamic Republic has also unilaterally declared itself exempt from enforcement of any provisions that it considers to violate domestic laws that are grounded in its hardline interpretation of Islam.

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