Thursday 30 October 2008

Iran Retracts on Juvenile Death Penalty

This report comes from the World Organisation Against torture:

[GENEVA, 28 October 2008] - The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is deeply concerned about new information that Iran willcontinue to sentence to death minors who have committed murder. This new declaration by Hossein Zabhi, the Assistant Attorney General forJudicial Affairs goes back on a first statement announcing that death sentence will no longer be imposed on any under-18 juveniles whatevercrime they have committed.On 17th October, OMCT issued a press release welcoming the positive announcement by the Iranian Judiciary. Unfortunately, a few days later, the same authority announced in a new statement that deathpenalty was still applicable to juveniles who had committed murder. It went on explaining that, according to the Iranian law, the punishment for murder is based on the system of qesas (or retribution). It is considered a private dispute between two parties –the alleged offender and the victim's family- where the state's role is limited to the resolution of the dispute through the judicial process. Qesas isimposed by the victim's family who is the sole able to pardon thealleged offender or to accept compensation. to this system, the State authorities are not competent to modify the setnence. It remains unclear why Iranian authorities went back on their first statement and the intention of the Iranian authorities was to mislead the Iranian and international human rights community. This does not take into account the situation of the juveniles on death rowand their families who could rightfully understand from the initial statement that the death sentence would be commuted into prison term.OMCT strongly calls the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the international norms it has adhered to and ratified such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenanton Civil and Political Rights.

The position taken by the government of Iran is difficult to understand, because it amounts to saying that the government cannot intervene when private citizens propose to kill an adolescent.
Thanks to Aoife Daly.

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