Despite Promises, Iran Still Executes Kids

Girls as young as 9 are sentenced to death: Amnesty International report
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2016 11:35 AM CST
Despite Promises, Iran Still Executes Kids
The feet of a convicted man are shown while he's being hanged about 80 miles outside of Tehran, Iran. Dozens of people who were arrested in Iran for crimes committed before they were 18 remain at risk of the death penalty despite recent reforms.   (AP Photo/Mehr News Agency, Hamideh Shafieeha, File)

More than 20 years ago, Iran promised it would stop executing convicts under the age of 18. But a new report by Amnesty International shows that not only has the practice continued into the present day—it's given Iran the dubious distinction of being "one of the leading executioners of juvenile offenders," the New York Times reports. At least 73 youngsters have been executed in Iran between 2005 and 2015, per the report, and at least 160 juveniles are now on the country's death row, and those are probably conservative numbers (the report notes actual figures are probably higher but unknown because info about the death penalty is "shrouded in secrecy"). And it's apparently much worse for girls than for boys, a deputy director for the group says. "Iran continues to lag behind the rest of the world, maintaining laws that permit girls as young as 9 and boys as young as 15 to be sentenced to death," says Said Boumedouha.

This in spite of supposedly significant changes to the country's Islamic Penal Code—changes meant to offer judges "alternative punishments" to the death penalty when juveniles are involved. In fact, the need for those changes in the first place shows what a dismal failure Iran has been in dealing with this issue, since in 1994 it ratified its participation in the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that "neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed [on] … persons below 18 years of age." "The report debunks recent attempts by Iran's authorities to whitewash their continuing violations of children's rights and deflect criticism of their appalling record as one of the world's last executioners of juvenile offenders," the Amnesty report reads. (The Guardian features heartbreaking photos of female juveniles in Iranian prisons.)

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