Thursday, September 22, 2011

Iran Executes a Teenager

A group of independent United Nations human rights experts has condemned the execution of a teenager carried out yesterday by Iranian authorities, and called once again for an immediate halt to the country’s use of the death penalty.

Alireza Molla Soltani, 17, was publicly executed by hanging on Wednesday. He was reportedly sentenced to death last month for stabbing a popular athlete to death in mid-July, which he said was done in self-defence.

“We are outraged at the execution practice in Iran despite the international community’s and our repeated calls for a moratorium,” the experts – on human rights in Iran, on summary executions, on the independence of the judiciary, and on torture – said in a news release.   “Any judgment imposing the death penalty upon juveniles below the age of 18, and their execution, are incompatible with Iran’s international obligations,” they stressed.

This year alone, more than 200 people have been executed in Iran, the majority of whom were charged with drug-related offences, the news release noted. A man convicted of drug trafficking was also hanged in Iran on Wednesday, according to media reports.  The experts said that it is widely accepted that the death penalty is an extreme punishment, and that it may only be imposed for the most serious crimes.  “We, however, regret that execution is common practice for people charged with drug-related offences, which do not amount to the most serious crimes.”

The experts – Christof Heyns, Ahmed Shaheed, Gabriela Knaul and Juan Méndez – called on the Iranian Government to immediately implement a moratorium on the death penalty, particularly in drug-related and juvenile cases.  UN human rights experts work in an independent and unpaid capacity, and report to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

(UN Press Release)

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