Human rights groups have singled out Iran as the world's front-runner in executing minors, and are circulating an international petition to force Tehran to stop the practice.
New York-based Human Rights Watch names Iran
as one of five countries to have executed minors since January 2005, alongside Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Pakistan, and Yemen. But Iran accounts for 26 out of 32 juvenile executions in that time frame, the overwhelming majority. That statistic stems partly from Iran's definition of legal adulthood as 9 years old for girls and 15 for boys, in sharp contrast to international treaties that ban capital punishment for crimes committed under the age of 18. Those include treaties to which Iran is a party: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In response, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and six other rights groups are petitioning
the UN to pressure the five offending countries to put a definitive end to child executions. Radio Farda reports that 320 organizations worldwide have signed on so far, in addition to individuals.
But rights defenders -- and those they hope to defend -- may have to wait a long time for an effective moratorium. In the meantime, Human Rights Watch reports, at least 132 juvenile offenders are known to be on death row in Iran, and the true number could be much higher. (by Iraj Gorgin)