IRAN URGED TO HALT EXECUTIONS OF JUVENILE CRIMINALS
July 8, 2008: Major human rights groups appealed
to Iran to stop imposing the death penalty for crimes
by juveniles and to commute sentences against nearly 140 youths known to be on
Saying that such executions violated international law
ratified by the Islamic Republic, they urged Iranian judicial authorities to
spare four young men facing imminent execution for murders committed under the
age of 18.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Swiss-based
Terre des Hommes were among 24 groups issuing a call they said was backed by
Iran's Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
"It is an emergency ... 138 child offenders are on
death row in Iran," Drewery Dyke, an Iran researcher for Amnesty
International, told a news briefing where it issued a detailed list of Iranian
youths on death row including five girls.
"We fear the true figure could be considerably
executed at least 30 juvenile criminals since 1990, including seven in 2007,
according to the groups which say Saudi Arabia and Yemen are the only two other
countries to do so.
Mohammad Hassanzadeh, a 16-year-old Iranian Kurd, was hanged
on June 10 for murdering a boy when he was 14, they said.
"We can speak of serial executions," said Bernard
Boeton of Terre des Hommes. "Minors have a limited capacity to understand,
to express and defend themselves. Whatever the crime, they deserve an
alternative sanction than to be hanged in public."
The use of the death penalty against people who committed
their offences while under the age of 18 is a "gross violation of
customary international law, no matter what age the person has reached at the
time of their execution," the groups said. (Sources: Reuters, 08/07/2008)