On the eve of the 63rd UN General Assembly Panel on the Promotion of the Rights of the Child, Hossein Zebhi , Iran’s Deputy State Public Prosecutor announced an end to child executions. This was reported in BBC Persian News, Radio Farda, and the cover of Iran’s daily state run newspaper Etemaad .
Stop Child Executions organization (SCE) along with 300 other NGO’s from 82 countries who had lobbied the General Assembly to fully implement the absolute ban on the juvenile death penalty had welcomed this news.
SCE President and co-founder Nazanin Afshin-Jam had stated “we are being cautious as we have seen announcements before where the Islamic Republic of Iran’s officials have reneged on their statements”. SCE Vice President David Etebari wrote “we must assure that the recent announcement by a non-senior official is not just a temporary effort to diffuse the current pressure but a genuine first step to permanently end juvenile executions”.
Unfortunately SCE’s doubts were founded and the international community was deceived once again by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Only three days after Iran’s initial announcement, Zebhi retracted from his statement and told Associated Press and Iran News Agency (IRNA) that the ban on execution only referred to juvenile drug traffickers and that death sentences based on the right of revenge (Ghisas) will still continue. It is believed by SCE that it is not coincidental that Zebhi retracted his earlier position of a complete ban on child executions once the General Assembly meetings had ended.
”Life imprisonment will be the punishment for juveniles convicted of first rate drug crimes. We can’t deny a victim’s family of the legal right to ask for Islamic ghisas, or eye for eye retribution. The judges are still required under Iran’s Islamic laws to issue death sentences to those convicted of murder if the victim’s family refuses financial compensation” Zebhi told Associated press.
Iran’s penal code follows Islamic law and the final say in capital punishment cases goes to the victim’s family, which can pardon the perpetrator or accept compensation in lieu of execution. The head of Iran’s Superior court Hosesin Mofid said: “Based on verses of the Holy Quran, retribution is the right of the victim’s family and we must distinguish this right from executions”.
Mohammad Mostafaei, a lawyer who represents more than 20 juveniles on death row said “Iran has signed two global conventions banning capital punishment for crimes committed before the age of 18, but the practice continues…Human rights activists won’t give up the fight until execution of under 18 people is abolished altogether in Iran”.
In Stop Child Execution’s recently published comprehensive list of recommendation and solutions to end child executions in Iran, had asked the United Nations to set deadlines and ultimatums for the Government of Iran and in the case of non-compliance to issue disciplinary actions through appropriate departments. ( http://scenews.blog.com/3972843/ )
Stop Child Executions wishes for the international community to continue to pressure the government in Iran to put a permanent ban on child Executions and also put pressure on the United Nations to enforce international human rights law.
To sign the petition and learn what you can do to Stop Child Executions or make a donation please go to www.stopchildexecutions.com