“Iran claims it plans to review its policy of executing children, and yet for the second time in a week it is planning to go right ahead with these killings,” said Zama Coursen-Neff, deputy director of the children’s rights division at Human Rights Watch. “Today, these two young men are staring at death because Iran ignores its international obligation to halt this repugnant practice.”
According to the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency, Ali Reza Jamshidi, the Judiciary spokesman, told journalists on May 5 that the Rights and Justice Commission of the Iranian Parliament and the Guardian Council plan to address juvenile offenses in a new way, based on categories of age: 7-12 years of age; 12-15 years of age; and 15-18 years of age, with the goal of eventually banning juvenile executions in Iran.
Iranian law currently allows the death penalty for certain offenses to be imposed on girls as young as 9, and boys from the age of 15. A child younger than this could also be sentenced to death if the judge in the case determines that he or she has reached puberty.
“Iranian officials have repeatedly announced measures to stop juvenile executions, while continuing such executions apace,” Coursen-Neff said. “Iran’s frequent executions of juvenile offenders belie its past promises to stop these killings, which are almost universally abjured.”
Mostafaei, the young men’s lawyer and a leading advocate against juvenile execution, was detained for questioning when he attended a news conference in a Judiciary Department building in Tehran on May 5, according to an Iranian journalist who spoke with Human Rights Watch. The journalist said that Mostafaei was released after an hour and a half. Iran Human Rights, an independent organization that covers human rights issues in Iran, said that authorities questioned Mostafaei because he was in the building trying to speak to a judiciary official about halting the executions of Khaleghi and Angooti.