By Ali Barada
Source: Asharq AlAwsat
New York – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Javid Rehman, has urged Tehran to abolish the death penalty against juveniles and expressed “concerns” over the fate of demonstrators detained in late 2017.
“I appeal to the Iranian authorities to abolish the practice of sentencing children to death, and to commute all death sentences issued against children in line with international law,” Rehman said.
Execution of juvenile convicts violates international law and contravenes the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, he added.
Rehman said five individuals convicted of having committed murder as minors have been put to death this year in Iran. The most recent, Zeinab Sekaanvand, was executed three weeks ago. She was accused and forced to confess to killing her husband in 2012 when she was 17.
“Claims that she was coerced into confessing to the killing, had been beaten following her arrest and was a victim of domestic violence were reportedly not adequately examined during her trial,” the special rapporteur said.
Rehman said the Iranian executions continue despite amendments in 2013 to the Islamic Penal Code that allow judges to give alternate sentences for juvenile offenders in certain circumstances.
He revealed there were “numerous” other juvenile offenders on death row in Iran, despite the government recently announcing it had established a taskforce that will deal with the protection of the rights of children and adolescents.
The report of Rehman, a law professor at Brunel University London, was his first since he took up his post in July. He has not yet visited Iran but has requested that authorities allow him to have unhindered access to the country.
He expressed a series of concerns about human rights in Iran, where for nearly a year the country has seen a wave of protests fueled by a flagging economy, high unemployment, the rising cost of living and social discontent.
At the start of the demonstrations in December, people were arrested in droves and at least 22 people were killed during a security crackdown.
“I remain concerned about the fate of those arrested during the protests, and call upon the government to ensure that all those imprisoned for peacefully exercising their freedom of opinion and expression are released,” Rehman said.
The situation of women and girls also warrants improvement.
The Iranian government rejects the concept of the special rapporteur’s mandate, but provides some cooperation with his office.