Iran Execution ‘Exceptionally Cruel,’ Amnesty International Says

Rights watchdog Amnesty International says it is “outraged” at the execution in Iran of a young man convicted of a murder he committed when he was 15. The group said in a January 30 statement that 22-year-old Ali Kazemi was hanged earlier the same day in a prison in Bushehr province.

“His execution was scheduled and carried out without any notice given to Ali Kazemi’s lawyer as required by Iranian law,” Amnesty said.

According to Amnesty, by carrying out this unlawful execution, Iran is effectively declaring that it wishes to maintain the country’s shameful status as one of the world’s leading executors of those who were children at the time of their crime.

“This is nothing short of an all-out assault on children’s rights, as enshrined in international law, which absolutely bans the use of the death penalty against someone who was under 18 years of age at the time of the crime,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

Kazemi was convicted in connection with the fatal stabbing of a man during a fight in March 2011, when he was only 15.

“It is long overdue for the head of Iran’s judiciary to intervene and establish an official moratorium on executions of juvenile offenders. Iranian parliamentarians must amend the Penal Code to ban the use of the death penalty against anyone who was under 18 at the time of the offense,” Mughrabi said.

Amnesty said it has found that prison officials and prosecutors in Bushehr “tormented Ali Kazemi’s family by making contradictory statements as to whether and when the execution would be carried out.” On January 29, his family was told Ali Kazemi’s execution had been scheduled for the next day and that they should go to Bushehr prison in the evening for one last visit.

That same evening the family was told Kazemi’s execution had been halted. On the morning of 30 January, prison authorities called to reassure the family that the execution had not taken place. However, at midday today, Ali Kazemi’s family was suddenly told the execution had just been carried out. Ali Kazemi’s execution comes less than a month after Iran executed another man who was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime, Amirhossein Pourjafar, on January 4.

Between 2005 and 2018, Amnesty International recorded the execution of 87 people convicted by the courts in Iran for crimes that occurred when they were under the age of 18. This includes four in 2017 and two so far in 2018. Amnesty International has identified at least 80 individuals who are on death row in Iran for crimes that took place when they were under 18 years of age.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is unequivocal in its absolute prohibition on the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by people below 18 years of age. It is also well-established in the principles of juvenile justice that individuals under 18 years of age should be treated as less mature and culpable, and should never face the same penalties as adults.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. Amnesty International has consistently called on all countries that still use the death penalty to establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the punishment.

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials.