At least 160 young Iranians, arrested for crimes they committed before the age of 18, are currently languishing on death row in the country that promised it would stop executing minors more than 20 years ago.
In a chilling new report, the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International exposed the hypocrisy of the country, accusing it of executing 73 young convicts between 2005 and 2015, along with using torture and ill treatment to extract confessions from minors.
“This report sheds light on Iran’s shameful disregard for the rights of children,” said Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program. “Iran is one of the few countries that continue 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.”
Besides being world's leading executioner of children, the Middle Eastern country is also one of the world's largest users of the death penalty overall, as it executed nearly 700 people in the first half of 2015 alone.
“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,” Boumedouha added.
The figures cited by the London-based charity indicate that the conditions are much worse for girls than boys.
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Sadly, this is in spite of the reforms in Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, which had sparked hopes that the situation of juvenile offenders would finally improve. However, things seem to have gotten even worse, as even three years after the supposed changes to the country’s strict law, authorities have continued to carry out executions of juvenile offenders.
“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,” the Amnesty report claims.
Iran signed the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child — which states that “neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed [on] … persons below 18 years of age” — in 1991 before ratifying it three years later.