Amnesty International

Iran: Planned execution of man for rape must be stopped

The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the planned execution of a man sentenced to death after being convicted for the rape of a child, Amnesty International said today.

Farhad Salehi Jabehdar, 29, is scheduled to be executed in the Central Prison of Karaj in Alborz province this Saturday (20 June).

According to a court document obtained by Amnesty International, Farhad Salehi Jabehdar has been sentenced to death for “forced male-male intercourse” (lavat-e be-onf) with a 10-year-old boy.

“Iran continues to execute several hundred people every year, earning the shameful spot of the second top executioner in the world,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director

“We urge the Iranian authorities to halt this planned execution. While the details of this case are truly abhorrent, the use of the death penalty for rape is not permitted under international law.

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Its continued use in Iran is shocking, and it’s time to end this inhuman practice once and for all.”

Farhad Salehi Jabehdar’s family were summoned to prison yesterday (16 June) for their final visit. As a result, they are extremely concerned that his execution may now take place earlier than planned.

Under international law, states that retain the death penalty must restrict its use to the most serious crimes involving intentional killings.

Judicial reviews rejected

According to court documents, the victim was 10-years-old when the incident occurred in 2017, and the criminal case was opened after the child’s father filed a complaint.

Farhad Salehi Jabehdar was identified and arrested on 10 June 2018, and was convicted and sentenced to death by Branch 1 of Criminal Court One of Alborz Province on 12 March 2019. The sentence was subsequently upheld on appeal by Branch 31 of the Supreme Court.

Amnesty International understands from the court verdict that the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran noted in a forensic report, submitted to the court, that their examination had found evidence of tears and bruising in the child’s anus area, resulting from forceful penetration.

In November 2019, the child’s father formally retracted his complaint, stating that while his child had been sexually abused, the incident did not involve “full penile penetration” (which is the legal threshold for “lavat” under Iranian law). As such, he expressed his opposition to the conviction of Farhad Salehi Jabehdar of “lavat” and the imposition of the death penalty, and pleaded to authorities that they close the case. 

Farhad Salehi Jabehdar’s lawyer has appealed to the head of the judiciary to stop the execution, and order a review of the case. Further requests for judicial review have also been rejected.

A number of religious opinions from several high-profile Shia clerics have also been submitted in support of legal efforts to save Farhad Salehi Jabehdar’s life.

“In response to horrific sexual violence against children, the Iranian authorities should work on ensuring adequate prevention and protection mechanisms, and ensure survivors’ access to the medical and psychological care they require,” said Diana Eltahawy.

“Instead, they are perpetuating a cycle of violence by resorting to yet another death sentence, even as the survivor’s father pleads against it.”

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. Amnesty International recorded at least 251 executions in Iran in 2019 in its annual Death Penalty report.