Iran set to hang third juvenile offender in a month

By agency reporter
February 3, 2017

The Iranian authorities must immediately stop the execution of a man arrested for a crime committed when he was 17 years old, said Amnesty International, ahead of his scheduled execution on 11 February 2017.

Hamid Ahmadi was convicted - following an unfair trial marred by torture allegations - over the fatal stabbing of a young man during a fight between him and four others in the city of Siahkal in 2008. He was arrested on 5 May 2008 after he contacted the police to report the stabbing, an incident in which he said he played no direct role.

Ahmadi was first sentenced to death in 2009 after an unfair trial which was based on 'confessions' he said were extracted through torture and other ill-treatment.

He has said that police officers held him for three days in a filthy, urine-stained cell; tied his hands and feet together and pushed him face down on the cell floor; tied him to a pole in the yard; kicked his genitals; and denied him food and water. One officer told him that he should not fear execution and should just "confess" to the stabbing so that the investigation would be concluded as soon as possible. The pain inflicted on him was so severe that he said he was willing to confess to anything to end it. The authorities are not known to have investigated his torture allegations.

The last time Ahmadi's execution was scheduled, in May 2015, it was halted at the last minute after a public outcry. He was then granted a retrial based on new juvenile sentencing provisions in Iran's 2013 Islamic Penal Code allowing judges to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment if they determine that the juvenile offender had not attained "mental maturity" at the time of the crime. However, he was sentenced to death for a second time in 2015.

This is the third time Ahmadi has been transferred to solitary confinement to await his death. He was transferred to solitary confinement in Lakan prison in the city of Rasht in preparation for his execution last Saturday (28 January). His execution was initially scheduled for 4 February but his family were informed today that it has been postponed by a week.

Over the past month the Iranian authorities have executed two other young men arrested as children, and scheduled a third which was halted at the last minute.

Phil Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, said: "Carrying out the third such execution in a month would be yet another stain on the conscience of Iran and an utter betrayal of its own commitments to uphold children's rights.

"Instead of displaying such appalling enthusiasm for use of the death penalty, the Iranian authorities should urgently halt Hamid Ahmadi's execution, commute his death sentence and order a fair retrial in line with international human rights standards."

Iran is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but its outdated laws continue to allow the death penalty to be applied to girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15. Amnesty is calling on the Iranian authorities to urgently amend Article 91 of Iran's 2013 Islamic Penal Code to prohibit the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders, without any discretion for the courts or other exceptions. Pending this legislative change the head of the judiciary must establish an official moratorium on executions and ensure that the death sentences imposed on all people arrested as children are commuted without delay.

* Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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