Iran Earns Medal of Shame for Juvenile Executions
Second Juvenile Execution in a Week Shows “a thirst for blood”
(26 August 2008) Iranian authorities hung juvenile offender Behnam Zare today, who was convicted of killing an associate at age 15. A week earlier, on 19 August, Reza Hejazi, also 15 at the time of his crime, was executed.
Iran leads the world in executing juvenile offenders, persons convicted of a crime committed before the age of 18. No other country has executed juvenile offenders in 2008. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran is obligated to abolish such executions.“The number of juvenile executions is rapidly increasing, an alarming and repugnant demonstration of the Iranian government’s utter disregard for the rights of its citizens, and for international law,” Hadi Ghaemi, the spokesperson for the Campaign said. “Trading partners need to reconsider the moral implications of doing business with a government that tops the world in this shameful practice.”
Zare, who was born in 1989, insisted his crime was an accident in the context of a childish quarrel. TheInternational Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has received a transcript of these words recorded from his prison cell days before his death: “I am Behnam Zare. I have been kept in Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, for 3 years. I am a murderer. I regret. It was only an accident. Human rights defenders! Save my life. I want to live. I want to be free. Is there someone to hear me? Is there someone to help me? I am spending my last days of life. Any minute I could be executed. I want to live. Save me…”
Zare’s family and lawyer were not notified of the time and place of his scheduled execution, in violation of Iranian law.
The two hangings have brought the total number of juvenile executions in Iran to six in 2008. The Campaign and other human rights organizations know of at least 132 other juvenile offenders on death row in Iran.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called on the Iranian Judiciary to immediately stop further executions of juvenile offenders and to consider alternative punishments.
“The insistence of Judiciary officials to carry out these brutal executions in rapid succession, despite domestic and international outcries, only demonstrates a shocking thirst for blood on behalf of the authorities,” Ghaemi said. “It does nothing to address the root social and economic problems leading to such crimes.”
A coalition of 24 major international and regional human rights organizations called on Iran to halt juvenile executions on 8 July 2008. UN human rights officers have repeatedly urged Iran to comply by its international treaty commitments. Zare’s execution came a day after the European Union condemned the execution of Reza Hejazi, stating that juvenile executions “flagrantly contravene” Iran’s international human rights obligations.