NCRI - United Nations experts have called on Iran to respect international human rights laws and to stop executing prisoners who committed offences while they were children. They are urging Iranian authorities to halt the execution of two people sentenced to death before the age of 18.

They said they are disheartened to hear that there is an “unprecedented rise” in the amount of executions of juvenile offenders that are taking place in the Islamic Republic. They said it is “appalling” the amount of stress and psychological suffering that adolescents are put through in prison where they are left to “languish”, and they say that it is nothing but torture.

One of the people in question is Mehdi Bohlouli who was 17 when he was sentenced to death for stabbing a man to death in a fight. He was due to be executed several weeks ago – around 15 years after his conviction – but it was halted just a few hours before. It is uncertain whether it has been postponed until a later date or not.

The other person in question is Peyman Barandah who was 15 when he was sentenced to death. He too was convicted for stabbing another person to death. He is due to be executed next month and it is uncertain whether a reprieve is possible.

The UN experts say that this is the sixth scheduled execution of a juvenile offender since the beginning of the year. And these are only the known cases – there could have been others that have not been publicised. Two of the known people have already been executed.

Worried that the trend will continue, they say: “Taking into account that at least 90 people were on death row at the beginning of April for crimes committed under the age of 18, the exact number of those executed or at risk of execution is likely to be much higher.”

Iran made an amendment to its Penal Code in 2013 to give juveniles the possibility of having a retrial. In 2016, Iran made assurances to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that this would apply systematically to all juveniles on death row.

However, Iran has not kept its promise. Some of those who were recently executed had no idea that a retrial was possible, and Mehdi Bohlouli and Peyman Barandah requested retrials that were subsequently rejected by the Supreme Court. In other cases where retrials were allowed, the offenders were still sentenced to death.

Iran is obliged to treat juveniles according to the human rights conventions, but it acts with no regard to these. The experts warn that Iran is acting unlawfully and that the international community must act.

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