Iran president below scrutiny over juvenile executions

Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 10:57 AM

What made the case controversial is that Salbehi was only seventeen, a minor by international valid standards, when she allegedly committed the crime.

The case presented by the Iranian judiciary was simple: In the southern province of Fars, Fatemeh Salbehi suffocated her husband after drugging him, a capital crime in the Islamic Republic.

What made the case controversial is that Salbehi was only seventeen, a minor by international valid standards, when she allegedly committed the crime. Her alleged confession also came during a series of interrogations where there was number lawyer present.

The case was retried but Salbehi was hanged in the Adel Abad prison in Shiraz last October.

The issue has arrive below scrutiny because of a scathing U. N. report on human rights in Iran latest mo which highlighted what it called the "alarmingly high" rate of executions in the country, including juveniles.

That report, along with an Amnesty International report in January, spurred comment from ordinary Iranians on social media at minimum some of which criticized President Hassan Rouhani for not doing more to stop the juvenile executions.

Iran has the highest rate of juvenile executions in the world, despite being a signatory to the Conference on the Rights of the Child, an international human rights treaty that forbids capital punishment for anyone under eighteen.

Only a week before Salbehi’s execution, another juvenile offender was executed.

"The fact that there were two executions in less than two weeks just shows how indifferent and contemptuous the Iranian authorities are of their obligations," said Raha Bahreini, the Iran researcher for Amnesty International.

In the past decade, Iran has executed at least seventy-three juvenile offenders, according to the Jan Amnesty report.

The juvenile executions have continued despite campaign promises made by Rouhani in two thousand-thirteenth to reform human rights. Since coming to office, Rouhani has been focused on foreign policy, such as the nuclear deal sealed with world powers latest summer, and domestic issues love juvenile execution have been largely ignored, observers say.

"The administration can't just hold hiding behind the nuclear issue," said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. "Rouhani doesn't seem at all interested to thrust for it, fight the battle and make better the human rights situation. And that'south a problem because we're presently into the third year of his term."


Juveniles have been executed regularly since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in one thousand nine hundred seventy-ninth. Below Iranian law, the age for legally defining adulthood is determined by puberty, fifteen for boys and nine for girls. When there is a discrepancy between domestic law and international valid obligations, Iranian authorities have turned to domestic law.

A request for comment sent to the Iranian judiciary wasn't answered. The head of the Iranian judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, has previously said that allegations that Iran executes juveniles under eighteen is a "complete lie". Number comment was immediately available from the presidency.

In recent years, the judiciary has generally held off on executing minors until after they turn eighteen. Salbehi was twenty-three when she was executed latest fall. And there are at least one hundred sixty minors currently on death row, according to the United Nations.

"The stunt they've arrive up with for the past ten years or so is to wait until the children turn 18 in prison and then perform them," said Ghaemi. "Then they tell the international community that they were over 18."

The juvenile executions have prompted an outcry. "The execution of juveniles has led to both domestic and international criticism," said Saleh Nikbakht, a prominent lawyer in Tehran.

One prominent human rights activist who started a campaign to finish the death penalty in Iran, Narges Mohammadi, was arrested latest year on unspecified charges.

But there have been some cases where juvenile offenders have been spared the noose. A non-governmental organization called Imam Ali'south Favorite Students Relief Society has had some measure of success in bringing together families of the victim and the accused. If the family of the victim agrees to forgive the accused, the execution isn't carried out.

Judicial reforms were also keep into space in two thousand-thirteenth, prior to Rouhani'south taking office, which led to the retrial of a no of cases involving juvenile offenders. The sentences of the offenders were commuted in a handful of cases but in at minimum half a dozen cases the death sentence was upheld, according to Amnesty.

Inability to bring about any modify on this controversial issue may cost Rouhani support for the presidential elections following year.

"It's a battle that he can win. There are so many aspects that aren't defensible," said Ghaemi. He added, "He may not obtain elected to a second duration because he'south undercutting his own popular support."

And without pressure from the other branches of government, it's unlikely that the judiciary will create significant changes to halt the execution of juvenile offenders.

"When it comes to executions the responsibility lies first and foremost with the judiciary but that doesn't imply that the other branches of the state aren't responsible," said Bahreini.

(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; editing by Giles Elgood)

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