Ahmad Shaheed

Ahmed Shaheed and three other special United Nation Rapporteurs have condemned the hanging of 17-year-old Alireza Mollasoltani and called for a halt to executions in Iran.

A news release published on the UN High Commissioner’s website is signed by Shaheed, Christof Heyns, Gabriela Knaul and Juan Méndez. On Wednesday, 17-year-old Mollasoltani was convicted of the murder of Ruhollah Dadashi, known as the “strongest man in Iran.”

The UN announcement states that, so far this year, three minors have been hanged in public in Iran, adding: “We are outraged at the execution practice in Iran despite the international community’s and our own repeated calls for a moratorium.”

They go on to state: “Any judgment imposing the death penalty on juveniles below the age of 18, and their execution, are incompatible with Iran’s international obligations.”

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child forbids the death penalty and life imprisonment for any individual under the age of 18. The Islamic Republic chooses to meet this commitment by delaying the execution of juvenile offenders until they reach the age of 18.

Following widespread protests by human rights activists, Ayatollah Shahroudi, the former head of the judiciary, issued a directive forbidding judges to issue death sentences to minors. However, the directive was never taken to Parliament and, therefore, has been overlooked, especially since Ayatollah Larijani took over as leader of the judiciary in 2009.

The UN announcement goes on to state that in 2011, 200 people were executed in Iran, mostly on drug charges, adding that: “Execution is common for people charged with drug-related offences, which do not amount to the most serious crimes.”

Expressing grave concern regarding fair trials and access to lawyers and family for the accused, the Special Rapporteurs emphasize: “We reiterate this clear message to the Government of Iran to immediately implement a moratorium on the death penalty, particularly in drug-related and juvenile cases.”