Execution of juvenile raises total to 4 in 2011

Press release
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The Iranian authorities publicly executed one more juvenile in the city of Karaj, west of the capital Tehran, on 21 September 2011 after his sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on 11 September. Born on 25 December 1993, Alireza Molla-Soltani, was 17 years old at the time of the alleged crime of killing a man by the name of Ruhollah Dadashi – “the strongest man of Iran” and a weightlifting champion – on 16 July 2011. The latest execution brings the number of juveniles hanged in 2011 to at least 4, including two in the southern city of Bandar Abbas and one in the south-western province of Khuzestan in April. However, the real figures may be higher.

The entire proceedings took barely over two months, which is an extremely short period for examining death penalty cases by any criteria.

Iran is a State party to the Convention on the Right of the Child as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) both of which strictly prohibit the imposing of the death sentence on persons below 18 years of age.
During the past week, the judicial authorities have unleashed a new wave of executions. On Sunday, 19 September, the government newspaper, daily Iran, reported the execution of 22 people in several prisons. Unofficial reports indicated that 8 people have been executed in the north-eastern city of Mashhad on 18 September. Hundreds of others have been executed since the beginning of the year. In 2010, Amnesty International recorded 252 officially acknowledged executions plus 300 reported by credible sources – a total of at least 552. At the present rate and based on the figures of the last nine months, the corresponding figures for 2011 are likely to be considerably higher.

One factor influencing the high number of executions in general is the omission of the right of appeal for death row convicts under the Anti-Narcotics Law.

Ironically, death sentences issued under that law are binding and can be implemented upon the confirmation of the prosecutor-general or president of the Supreme Court who also have the right to appeal them. In practice, the prosecutor-general confirms the implementation of most or all such sentences.

To give a summary of the death sentence procedure from beginning to end: The prosecutor asks the court to sentence the defendant to death; the judge of first instance complies; the sentence is referred to the Supreme Court without any appeal, and is upheld possibly within 10 days and it is the prosecutor-general’s turn to authorise its implementation. That was the procedure that culminated in the execution of the juvenile Alireza Molla-Soltani.

It is astounding that even the Supreme Court, as the highest judicial authority, views the most important issue, i.e. death sentence and the right to life, as a completely formal matter: “The death sentences issued by criminal courts are now examined in less than 10 days in the Supreme Court… It is very easy to examine dossiers with death sentences.” (Ayatollah Ahmad Mohseni Garakani, president of the Supreme Court, 16 March 2011).The haste in upholding death sentences and implementing them is a part of the ongoing trend of ignoring the international standards and norms of justice on all levels.

Karim Lahidji, Vice-president of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and President of the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI), said today: “Authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran think they can intimidate the public through executions in public and creating a reign of terror intended to cover up their extremely flawed judicial, political, social and economic policies. The latest hanging in public of one more juvenile is yet another indication of the Iranian authorities’ total disregard for their obligations under international human rights treaties. The UN Human Rights Committee is bound to examine this issue, the extraordinary haste in implementation of death sentences and other aspects of gross violations of human rights next month in Geneva when implementation of the ICCPR in Islamic Republic of Iran is on the agenda.”

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