UN rights experts urge Iran to halt imminent execution of juvenile Amirhossein Pourjafar
GENEVA (18 October 2017) – UN human rights experts* have made an urgent appeal to Iran to halt the execution of Amirhossein Pourjafar, who was 16 years of age when he was sentenced to death. The execution is scheduled to take place tomorrow.
“The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the execution of this juvenile offender and annul the death sentence against him in compliance with their international obligations,” the experts said. “International standards unequivocally forbid imposing the death sentence on anyone under 18 years of age.”
The experts said Iran was continuing to execute juvenile offenders despite it being strictly prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is party. In 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child strongly urged Iran to end the execution of children and persons who committed a crime while under the age of 18.
However, Iran has executed at least four juvenile offenders since January, and at least 86 more are known to be on death row, although the actual figure may be higher.
A few months ago, Iran executed Alireza Tajiki, who was arrested in 2012 when he was 15 years old. Prior to his execution, he had spent four years on death row amid reports of torture and violations of his right to a fair trial.
“We deplore the continued scheduling of the executions of juvenile offenders,” the experts said. “Iran should immediately and unconditionally abolish the sentencing of children to death, and engage in a comprehensive process of commutation of all death sentences issued against children, in line with juvenile justice standards.”
Amirhossein Pourjafar was sentenced to death in September 2016 after being convicted of the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl. The court said he had attained “mental maturity” at the time of the crime and had understood the nature and consequences of his actions. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence in January 2017.
*The UN experts: Ms. Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Ms. Renate Winter, current Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. It also monitors the Optional Protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; as well as a third Optional Protocol which will allow individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.