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Iran: Amnesty Criticizes 'Child Executions'

Amnesty says Iran has executed 24 children since 1990 (file photo) (epa) June 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- In April, 20-year-old Said Mohammad Reza Musavi Shirazi was executed. His crime? A murder he allegedly committed when he was 16.

According to a June 27 Amnesty International report, in Iran, defendants younger than 18 are being hanged after quick decisions and hurried procedures.

The 41-page report, titled "Iran: The Last Executioner of Children," lists names and details of each known case. It also says the actual number of executions is higher because many death-penalty cases in Iran go unreported.

"Amnesty International has issued this report to point to the crisis that Iran's children, juveniles, in Iran face when they commit a crime and they face execution," Amnesty International spokeswoman Nicol Shoueiry said.

Capital Offenses

In Iran, capital offenses include adultery by married people, incest, rape, four convictions of an unmarried person for fornication, three convictions for drinking alcohol, or four convictions for homosexual acts among men.

Amnesty says that several of those on death row belong to minority groups -- Iranian Arabs, Afghans, homosexuals. The report says that some on death row are young girls who had been abused.

Shoueiry said Amnesty International is calling for concrete steps to stop the practice. "One of the main things that we are calling for in this report is a change of the law that continues to allow or to sustain heinous practices," she said. "One of the other things that we also are calling for in the report is that there should be a moratorium on all executions [in Iran]."

Amnesty says at least 71 child offenders are believed to be currently awaiting the death penalty in Iran, while 24 child offenders have executed since 1990, more than any other country in the world.

"The only countries in which the executions of child offenders have taken place since 2003 are China, Sudan, and Pakistan," Shoueiry said. "And as I said, there is a trend, there is a tendency towards either abolishing this practice in other countries or even imposing a moratorium on such executions. So in a way, Iran unfortunately is still going against the trend by continuing to execute children."

Both the Chinese and Pakistani authorities have insisted that those executed were aged 18 or over at the time the crime was committed.

Iran has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbid executing anyone for an offense committed under the age of 18.

Iran's Arab Minority

Iran's Arab Minority

The aftermath of a car bombing in Ahvaz on June 12, 2005 (epa)

DISCONTENT IN THE SOUTH: There are approximately 2.07 million ethnic Arabs in Iran (3 percent of the total population of 69 million), most of them living in the region around the southern city of Ahvaz. The region has been the scene of numerous terrorist attacks and demonstrations over the years. Arab groups cite historical grievances, and they bemoan inadequate attention to their culture and language by state media....(more)


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