Amnesty International’s new report on executions in 2008

Source: Death Sentences and Executions in 2008  (ACT 50/003/2009)

Amnesty International remained concerned about the application of the death penalty in Iran. Some of the cruel and inhumane methods used to execute at least 346 people in 2008 included stoning and hanging.13 The number of public hangings in Iran decreased in 2008 after the Chief Justice issued a decree banning them.


Amnesty International was also concerned about proposals by the authorities in Iran to widen further the already wide scope of application of the death penalty. In 2008 a new law was passed that allows the application of the death penalty against people convicted of illegal audiovisual activities (pornography) and a proposed law prescribing the death penalty for apostasy, heresy and witchcraft and for certain internet-related crimes that “promote corruption and apostasy” was being drafted.


In July 2008 Amnesty International and nine other human rights organisations issued a joint public statement calling for an end to the execution of juvenile offenders in Iran.14Many human rights defenders in Iran continue to campaign vigorously against such executions and for an end to executions by stoning. Despite these efforts the authorities in Iran executed eight juvenile offenders in 2008 in flagrant violation of international law.15 Iran was the only country in the world in which juvenile offenders were known to have been executed in 2008.



Article 6(5), ICCPR and Article 37(a) of the CRC prohibit anyone under 18 years old at the time the crime was committed from being sentenced to death. The major regional treaties in Europe, the Americas and Africa also have similar provisions.


More than 100 countries that retain the death penalty for some crimes have outlawed the execution of juvenile offenders. A small number of countries, however, continued to execute child offenders in flagrant violation of international law.


Amnesty International is concerned that the Arab Charter on Human Rights (ACHR), which entered into force in 24 March 2008, clearly fails to prohibit the imposition of the death penalty on those under the age of 18. Article 7(a) of the Charter prohibits the imposition of the death penalty against persons under 18 years of age except where it is permitted under national legislation. This, clearly, leaves room for states to execute juvenile offenders in flagrant violation of international law, in particular the ICCPR and the CRC, but without necessarily breaching the terms of the ACHR.