Dozens juvenile offenders on death row in Iran: Amnesty International

DUBAI:  Amnesty International says dozens of people arrested in Iran for crimes committed before they turned 18 are at risk of being executed despite recent reforms, with many having already spent years on death row.

Amnesty’s 110 page report comes at a time when Tehran is working to rebuild relations with the West following last year’s landmark nuclear deal.

Iran is one of the world’s largest users of the death penalty, ranking second behind China in 2014, according to the most recent Amnesty figures. Most executions in Iran are carried out for drug smuggling.

The London based group said in a report released Tuesday that Iran has executed at least 73 juvenile offenders between 2005 and 2015, including at least four last year.

The death penalty and juvenile offenders in Iran reveals that Iran has continued to consign juvenile offenders to the gallows, while trumpeting as major advances, piecemeal reforms to the 2013 Islamic Penal Code that fail to abolish the death penalty against juvenile offenders.

The report lists 73 executions of juvenile offenders which took place between 2005 and 2015, and narrates the distressing accounts of scores of youths who are languishing on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18.

According to the UN at least 160 juvenile offenders are currently on death row.

The agreement came into force this month after Iran took steps to curb its nuclear program, leading to the lifting of crippling international sanctions.

Whereas, reforms introduced in 2013 give judges more discretion to take into account juvenile offenders’ mental maturity and potentially impose less harsh punishments.

Amnesty said that, Despite some juvenile justice reforms, Iran continues to lag behind the rest of the world, maintaining laws that permit girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 to be sentenced to death.

Recently, the Iranian government executed a Pakistani national on Thursday in the Central Jail of Yazd town on drug smuggling charges after he was accused.

Ibratullah was awarded death sentence after being arrested in Iran three months ago on drug smuggling charges. The man belonged to the Nukondi town in Chagai district of Baluchistan.

Family sources confirmed his execution but disputed the claim of Iranian authorities that the man was involved in drug smuggling. They said Ibratullah was implicated in a false drug case.

The family maintained that the body had yet not been handed over to them.