The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran singled out Iran’s crackdown on dissent and practice of sentencing children to death in a horrific defiance of international law, according to a new report published last week.
Presenting his first report to the Geneva-based council since taking office in July, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, cited what he called Tehran’s “worrying patterns of intimidation, arrest, prosecution, and ill-treatment” of human rights defenders, lawyers, and labor rights activists who have taken part in recent protests and strikes across the country.
He called on Iran to release all those detained for exercising rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Javaid Rehman cited records that showed that at least six child offenders were executed in 2018, all of them between 14 and 17 at the time of the alleged crime. He noted that previous UN reports had showed a similar pattern, with 5 child offenders executed in 2017, 5 in 2016, 7 in 2015, and 13 in 2014. He advised that there are at least 85 children still on death row.
As always with Iran, it is likely that these statistics are less than the true amount because Iran underreports things that will make them look bad.
The age at which you can be sentenced to death in Iran is nine for girls and 15 for boys.
“The practice, illustrated in numerous cases reviewed, of waiting until the child offender reaches the age of 18 before execution, repeated postponements, and the inherent vulnerability of the child given his or her age, amounts to a pattern of torture and other ill-treatment,” Rehman told the council. He urged Iran to abolish a law permitting death sentences for children and to commute all such sentences already issued, so that it abides by international law.
The report also explained that human rights in Iran have continued to decline since last year’s Special Rapporteur report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), because of heightened domestic repression, especially surrounding the ongoing protest movement, and economic crisis.
The report read: “The Special Rapporteur is disturbed by indications of an increasingly severe response to the protests, amidst patterns of violations of the right to life, the right to liberty and the right to a fair trial. An increasing number of human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, and labour activists are being arrested or harassed. The Head of the Judiciary publicly described the protests as ‘sedition’ aimed at ‘dragging people to the streets to target the very foundation of the Islamic Republic.’”
This is most recently notable in the conviction of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh for defending women who protested the compulsory hijab laws last year. She faces 34 years in jail. Indeed, women’s rights activists have long been a target for the mullahs’ regime.