Iran Executed Three Child Offenders in January

Iran executed thee child offenders in January in a clear violation of international laws, a rights group has claimed.

The Islamic republic has one of the world's highest rates of executions, including of people who are sentenced to death for crimes committed, or allegedly committed, when they were under 18.

On January 5 authorities in Karaj prison executed Amirhossein Pourjafar for the rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl when he was 16, Human Rights Watch said.

The man, who was 18 when he was executed, had told a local newspaper he was under the influence of alcohol when he committed the crime. His lawyer said Pourjafar had mental health issues and had been hospitalized in a mental health center during his detention.

On January 30, the country executed two other child offenders.

Ali Kazemi was killed, for a murder he allegedly committed aged 15, at Bushehr prison, in southern Iran. Imam Ali Society, a local NGO that works to save children from the death row, said Kazemi was killed in spite of the fact authorities had promised his family they would try to halt the execution.

Mahboubeh Mofidi was executed at Bushehr prison for the alleged murder of her husband in 2014, when she was 17.

Iran flag
Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Rights groups claimed Iran executed at least 25 child offenders between 2014 and 2017. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo

Executions of juvenile offenders

Iran is a signatory of treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that forbid the death penalty for individuals convicted of crimes committed when they were under the age of 18.

The Islamic republic allows capital punishment for juveniles in case of "qesas" (retribution-in-kind) and "hodoud", offences and punishments for which there are fixed penalties under Islamic law.

Following mounting pressure by the international community, Iran introduced some amendments to its penal code in 2013, outlawing death penalty for child offenders on drug-related charges. The amendments also allowed judges to replace the death penalty for children if they do not understand the nature of the crime or its consequences, or if there are any doubts about their mental capacity.

But the 2013 amendments have not heralded the changes rights groups hoped for. The country executed at least 25 child offenders between 2014 and 2017, HRW said.

"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, HRW Middle East director.

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

Other rights groups have condemned Iran for its executions of juvenile offenders.

Amnesty International deemed the the January executions as the latest example of Iran's "shameful status as one of the world's leading executers of those who were children at the time of their crime."

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson for Norway-based Iran Human Rights, called on the international community to put pressure on Tehran to halt such executions.

"We expect the European Union and Norway, which besides being the main opponents of the death penalty on the international arena have good relations with the Iranian authorities, to condemn the recent executions and to put the issue of juvenile executions on top of their agenda in the talks with the Iranian authorities," he said in a statement earlier in February.