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UN's High Commissioner on Human Rights Speaks up on violence against children

New York, Mar 8 2012 4:10PM
All forms of legalized violence against children, including the death sentence, life imprisonment without parole and corporal punishment, are clear violations of their rights, the United Nations human rights chief stressed today.

“Although prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, some countries continue to impose death sentences for crimes committed by those below the age of 18,” said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Around 30 countries permit corporal punishment in sentencing children for crimes, which in some countries includes flogging, stoning or amputation,” she told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva as it began a <"
http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11925&LangID=E">discussion on children and the administration of justice.

Read more: UN's High Commissioner on Human Rights Speaks up on violence against children

Iran's new penal code re: Juvenile death sentences

Criminal Responsibility of Children in the Islamic Republic of Iran's New Penal Code

Source:Human Rights Documentation Center http://bit.ly/w30C8z

(22 February 2012) -- In this IHRDC legal essay, Iranian defense lawyer Mohammad Hossein Nayyeri explains why the new Islamic Penal Code, despite allegations to the contrary in the media, does not end the application of the death penalty to juvenile offenders in Iran.

By Mohammad H. Nayyeri
Attorney at Law, Iranian Bar Association
LLB, LLM, PhD Candidate, Tehran, Iran
LLM Human Rights, London, UK

According to international rules, including the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) and the Beijing Rules,[1] every human being under the age of eighteen years old is considered to be a child and shall not be subject to any criminal punishment. In fact, the criminal regime for children has been separated from that for adults—and the former has a supporting, correcting, and protecting character. It is also internationally accepted that neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment shall be imposed for offences committed by children.[2] The problem that arises in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), and perhaps with other Islamic states, is the contradiction between, on the one hand, the internationally accepted notion of “child” and age of criminal responsibility and, on the other hand, the age of maturity under Islamic Shari’a.

In other words, internationally accepted standards, without any discrimination between boy and girl, have determined that the age of 18 is the standard age of entering into majority and full criminal responsibility. In Islamic sources, however, reaching the age of maturity is deemed to be the point of leaving childhood and becoming an adult which results in full criminal responsibility. Additionally, in none of the Islamic schools is the age of maturity under Islamic Shari’a law in complete conformity with the age of 18 as enshrined in international instruments and the age varies for boys and girls.

Before the adoption of the new Code, according to article 49 of the old Penal Code, “children” were exempted from criminal responsibility and, therefore, Correction and Rehabilitation Centers were in charge of correcting measures. However, ignoring the internationally accepted definition of the child, note 1 of the same article defined a child as an individual who has not reached the age of maturity under Islamic Shari’a. Nevertheless, the old Code was silent on how old is “the age of maturity under Islamic Shari’a”, and, in practice, it arguably referred back to the Civil Code.[3]

According to Islamic sources, the criterion for criminal responsibility is reaching the age of maturity which, according to the Shi’ite School in the IRI, is 9 lunar years (8 years and 9 months) for girls and 15 lunar years (14 years and 7 months) for boys. However, proving maturity even before the aforementioned ages is possible under Islamic Shari’a on the basis of other physical signs. For example it is possible that a boy under the age of 15 is deemed as having attained maturity under Islamic Shari’a, if he is capable of producing sperm.

Read more: Iran's new penal code re: Juvenile death sentences