Good News From Iran: Death Sentence Overturned


A man sentenced to death for an offence when he was a child has had his sentence overturned by the Iranian Supreme Court after 18 years on death row. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was 15 years old when he was arrested in 2002 on charges of committing murder while stealing a car. Although he initially pleaded guilty he later explained that his two co-defendants had coerced him by promising him money to take the rap for the murder telling him that he would not receive the death penalty as he was underage. Iran is one of the few countries in the world that still uses the death sentence against minors even though it is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits the use of the death sentence for crimes committed by anyone under the age of 18. However, in Sharia law, the “age of criminal responsibility” for children is defined as the age of maturity, which means that females over 9 lunar years of age and boys over 15 lunar years of age are both eligible for execution if convicted of “crimes against God” (such as apostasy) or “retribution crimes” (such as murder).

The law grants judges the discretion to replace the death penalty with an alternative sentence if they find that there are doubts about the individual’s comprehension of the nature of the crime or consequences, or their full “mental growth and maturity” at the time of the crime. International human rights organizations say Iran is responsible for more than 70% of all juveniles executed in the last 30 years with at least 63 in the last decade, including at least six in 2018 and four in 2019. Given the security state, suppression of civil society activists, and limited interaction with detainees, the number of juvenile executions is likely to be significantly greater than reported.

In 2020 Iran carried out at least 246 executions with 194 were for murder; 23 for drug-related offences; 12 for rape; four for “armed insurrection against the state”; five for “enmity against God”; two for espionage; one for “spreading corruption on earth” and one for drinking alcohol. One execution was carried out in public and nine women were executed. Hanging and shooting were the methods of execution. The Islamic Penal Code continued to provide for execution by stoning, for some consensual same-sex sexual conduct and extramarital sexual relations. The death penalty was increasingly used as a weapon of political repression against dissidents, protesters and members of ethnic minority groups.

Repost from Amnesty

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