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HRW urges Iran to stop executions of child offenders

Executions in Iran have long been a contentious issue [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2018

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Following executions of three child offenders in Iran, the rights group has demanded the immediate end to the death penalty being used as punishment for crimes committed as minors.
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called for Iran to stop executing child offenders after three people were put to death in January for crimes they committed as minors.

"Iran should immediately and unconditionally end the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by children under age 18, and move toward a complete ban on capital punishment," the New York-based rights group said in a statement.

It detailed the executions of the three detainees - Amirhossein Pourjafar, Ali Kazemi and Mahboubeh Mofidi - last month. 

Pourjafar, 18, was executed on January 4 in Karaj prison close to Tehran for the rape and murder of a three-year-old girl when he was 16.

Kazemi was put to death on January 30, seven years after he allegedly fatally stabbed a man dead in a street fight aged 15.

On the same day the authorities also executed Mofidi, 20, over the murder of her husband at the age of 17, some four years after they were married.

The reports of the executions came after Iran appeared to seek a reduction in executions by easing drug laws, effectively taking thousands of people off death row.

"Iran seems intent on erasing any positive impression gained from modest reforms to its drug execution laws last year by hanging several child offenders in a bloody start to 2018," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"When will Iran’s judiciary actually carry out its alleged mission, ensuring justice, and end this deplorable practice of executing children?" she added.

The group said that Iran is "one of only four countries known to have executed child offenders since 2013", including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, with Gaza also known to have executed minors.

Iran made penal code amendments in 2013 which prohibit the death penalty being invoked for minors for certain types of crimes, including drug-related offenses.

For serious crimes, judges are asked to use their discretion and to not issue a death sentence against a child who was not able to comprehend the nature and consequences of the crime at the time.

However the Iranian authorities have executed at least 25 people for crimes committed when they were children from 2014 to the end of 2017, according to Amnesty International and Iran Human Rights.

Amnesty International says at least 87 people were executed in Iran from 2005 to the start of this year for crimes committed when they were minors.

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