UN chides Iran over juvenile executions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 1:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 1:15am

The UN human rights chief yesterday appealed to Iran not to execute a woman convicted of murdering her husband at age 17.

Razieh Ebrahimi is among some 160 people thought to be on death row in Iran for crimes committed before they turned 18, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

"The imminent execution of Razieh Ebrahimi has once again brought into stark focus the unacceptable use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders in Iran," she said.

Ebrahimi was married at 14 and gave birth to a child a year later. She says that her husband subjected her to domestic violence. She was arrested in 2010.

"Regardless of the circumstances of the crime, the execution of juvenile offenders is clearly prohibited by international human rights law," said Pillay, a former judge.

Jannat Mir, a 17-year-old Afghan, was hanged in April in Isfahan prison in Iran for drug-related crimes, she said, raising concerns about whether he had a fair trial, because he was said not to have had access to a lawyer or consular services. Five other Afghans were executed with him for similar offences.

Four "political prisoners" from the Kurdish minority were also at imminent risk of execution, Pillay said.

They were convicted in 2010 on charges of moharebeh (enmity against God) and mofsid fil arz (corruption on earth) after trials that fell short of international fair trial standards, she said.

At least six political prisoners were among more than 250 people believed to have been executed in Iran this year, while some sources suggested a "considerably higher figure", she said.

The United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday called on all states to ensure that the death penalty was not imposed for crimes committed by under-18s and to work towards abolition of the death penalty.

China, India, Japan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were among member states voting against the resolution brought by the European Union on behalf of a group of sponsors at the forum.

It was adopted by 29 states in favour, with 10 against and eight abstentions. Russia and the United States abstained.