New UN Report on Iran Notes Ongoing Executions of Child Offenders

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In his latest report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council February 27, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran Javaid Rehman raised his concern over human rights violations in Iran, paying particular attention to the way the death penalty is carried out in Iran.

The report of the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran has now been made available on the documentation webpage of the 40th session of the Human Rights Council.

The Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman describes how the protests in the Islamic Republic of Iran reflect long-standing grievances related to human rights.

An amendment to the drug trafficking law has led to a decline in executions. Nevertheless, increasing economic challenges have intensified grievances, which may be exacerbated following the reimposition of unilateral sanctions. Discontent has been expressed through disparate protests by different groups across the country.

The Government has introduced some measures aimed at addressing economic challenges, but the arrests of lawyers, human rights defenders and labour activists signal an increasingly severe State response.

A British-Pakistani legal scholar and Professor of Islamic Law and International Law at Brunel University, Rehman describes how the execution of child offenders in the Islamic Republic of Iran has continued over decades in violation of the country’s international human rights obligations.

He expressed deep regret that children as young as nine years old can still be executed, noting that at least 33 minors have been executed for their offenses since 2013.

Rehman said Iran must “urgently amend legislation to prohibit the execution of persons who committed [a crime] while below the age of 18 years and as such are children, and urgently amend the legislation to commute all existing sentences for child offenders on death row.”

Addressing the high authorities in Iran, Rehman has asked them to provide the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur with a list of all child offenders on death row.

While praising the decline of the number of executions related to narcotics and drugs smuggling following a recent amendment of the law, Rehman noted that the death penalty should only be imposed for the “most serious crimes,” a term widely understood to mean only premeditated killings.

“Concerns were raised following the establishment of special courts in August 2018 to try ‘economic crimes’ which carry the death penalty,” Rehman said.

Furthermore, Rehman pointed to reports indicating that ethnic and religious minority groups constitute a disproportionately large percentage of persons executed or imprisoned in Iran

“Concerns have been raised, for example, about the situation of Hedayat Abdollahpour, a Kurdish Iranian, whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court upon its second review in October 2018 amidst reports that he had been subjected to torture in detention and had been denied access to a lawyer of his choice” Rehman maintained.

Rehman also raised the issues of the detention of Iranians with dual citizenship, the suppression of ethnic minorities, including Sufi dervishes of the Gonabadi denomination, Baha’is, newly converted Christians, and widespread detentions in the provinces of Azarbaijan, Kurdestan, and Sistan & Blauchestan.

The recent crackdown on labor rights in Iran was also given special attention in Rehman’s report.

Workers’ strikes at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane mill in the city of Shush, the Iran National Steel Industrial Group (INSIG) in Ahvaz, in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, as well as widespread protests by teachers and truckers were noted.

Rehman offered the Islamic Republic a list of recommendations for improving its human rights record, including ending the death penalty for all but the most serious crimes, ensuring that prisoners are protected from torture and ill-treatment, including coerced confessions, guaranteeing all accused access to a lawyer of their choosing, and addressing all forms of discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities and ending persecutions of these groups.

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