Amnesty International (AI) is calling on the Iranian authorities to take immediate steps to end the shameful practice of executing child offenders (those convicted of crimes committed before the age of 18).
According to the report Iran: The last executioner of children, Iran has executed more child offenders than any other country in the world since 1990.
As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has committed not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under the age of 18.
Officials from the Iranian Government and the judiciary have repeatedly stated that Iran does not execute children. However, the facts tell a different story.
The report states that 24 child offenders have been executed in Iran since 1990, 11 of whom were under 18 at the time of their execution. In most cases, the authorities waited until child offenders turned 18 before executing them. It is not clear whether the authorities understand that such executions still violate Iran's international obligation not to execute child offenders under the ICCPR.
AI is aware of 71 child offenders who are currently under sentence of death in Iran. However, the lack of information available on the death penalty in the country means this number may only be a fraction of the total.
Campaigning against the death penalty both inside and outside Iran can make -- and has made -- a difference. In some cases, death sentences have been overturned and the person has been released. In many more, stays of execution have been won.
Campaigns have also prompted the Iranian authorities to publicly comment on cases, initiate reviews of cases, order retrials and even grant pardons or amnesties.
Human rights defenders in Iran stress that international publicity and pressure in support of local efforts can help bring about change in the country. AI believes that campaigning can save lives and will eventually persuade the Iranian authorities to end the illegal execution of child offenders and bring their legal practices into line with their obligations under international law.
AI opposes the death penalty for anyone, regardless of their age and the nature of the crime or the character of the condemned. Every execution is an affront to human rights and an act of premeditated cruelty that denies the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
AI's report calls for the abolition of the death penalty for child offenders in Iran. The Head of the Judiciary should immediately implement a moratorium on the execution of child offenders until such changes can be made law.
The death sentences of the 71 child offenders documented in AI’s report, and any other child offenders on death row in Iran, must be commuted.
Ending executions of child offenders in Iran, while a major objective in itself, is just one step on the road to total abolition -- but a vitally important step that should be taken without delay.