Kurdish boy executed in Iran

A Kurdish boy, believed to be 16 or 17 years old at the time of execution, was executed in Iran on Tuesday. Mohammad Hassanzadeh was hanged in Sanandaj prison following his conviction for the murder, when aged about 15, of another boy, then aged 10.

A 60-year-old man, Rahim Pashabadi, also convicted of murder, was executed alongside him. Amnesty International condemned the execution.

“This latest execution of a juvenile offender is yet another blatant violation by the Iranian authorities of their international obligations under the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child not to sentence to death those under the age of 18 at the time of the offence,” said the organisation.

“It runs against hopes created by yesterday’s decision by the Head of Iran’s Judiciary to grant a one-month reprieve to two juvenile offenders to allow more time to seek a resolution with the families of the victims.”

The two juvenile offenders who were due to be executed on Wednesday were granted the reprieve by Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi on Tuesday. Behnoud Shojaee and Mohammad Feda’i were accused of premeditated murder and sentenced to qesas, or retribution, for which the penalty is death. Both had claimed that they did not intend to kill.

“We call on Iran to end, once and for all, such executions, including those of at least 85 other juvenile offenders on death row,” said Amnesty International. “These juveniles should not have been sentenced to death in the first place.”

Amnesty International has said that the organisation is also concerned about reports that Saeed Jazee, a third juvenile offender now aged 21, is also scheduled to be executed on 25 June.

Amnesty International has longstanding concerns with trial procedures that fall short of international standards which Iran is obliged to uphold.

In a recent letter by Mohammad Feda’i that was publicised on 7 June, he said that, while in detention, officials kicked and tortured him to the point that he agreed one night to sign a confession without knowledge of its content.

“I am a 21-year-old, a young man, who was only 16 when he entered prison. Like any other teenager, [I was] still living my childhood dreams […],” he wrote, adding “I was beaten and flogged repeatedly […] They hanged me from the ceiling [and] left me with no hope of living.”

Amnesty International has recorded the names of at least 85 other juvenile offenders at risk of execution in Iran and fears there may be many others also at risk. Iran remains by far the most prolific executioner of juvenile offenders. In recent years, only two other countries – Saudi Arabia and Yemen – have carried out such executions.

Amnesty International said that the organisation recognises the right and responsibilities of states to bring those suspected of criminal offences to justice in fair proceedings, but opposes the death penalty in all cases.

“We call on Iran’s leaders, its judiciary and its new parliamentarians to ensure that Iran joins the global trend away from the use of the death penalty, powerfully expressed in the UN General Assembly’s resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions on 18 December 2007,” said Amnesty International.