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UN human rights chief urges Iran to halt imminent execution of juvenile offender


26 June 2014 – The United Nations human rights chief today called on authorities in Iran to halt the imminent execution of a juvenile offender, while also voicing concern about the excessive use of the death penalty in the country since the start of the year.

“The imminent execution of Razieh Ebrahimi has once again brought into stark focus the unacceptable use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders in Iran,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Ms. Ebrahimi was convicted of killing her husband when she was 17 years old, according to a news release issued by the High Commissioner’s office (OHCHR). She was married to him at the age of 14, gave birth to a child when she was 15, and says she was subjected to domestic violence.

“Regardless of the circumstances of the crime, the execution of juvenile offenders is clearly prohibited by international human rights law,” said Ms. Pillay.

“Judgements imposing the death penalty on people under the age of 18 and the implementation of such judgements are manifestly incompatible with Iran’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she added.

“I urge the Iranian authorities to halt the execution of Razieh and all other juvenile offenders.”

Another juvenile offender, 17-year-old Jannat Mir, an Afghan boy, was hanged in April in Isfahan prison for drug-related offences, according to OHCHR. He reportedly had no access to a lawyer or consular services, raising concerns about whether fair trial standards were observed in his case and those of five other Afghans executed along with him for similar offences.

Ms. Pillay voiced alarm at the large number of juvenile offenders who reportedly remain on death row in Iran. Information gathered by OHCHR from reliable sources say some 160 people are reportedly on death row for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 18.

More than 250 people are believed to have been executed in Iran so far this year, with some sources suggesting a considerably higher figure. Most of the executions were carried out for drug-related offences, which do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty may be applied in international law, OHCHR noted.

At least 500 people are known to have been executed in 2013, including 57 in public.

The High Commissioner urged Iran to immediately impose a moratorium on all executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

Source: UN News Centre – Asia Pacific