Friday, 14 November 2008

OMCT: Iran: sad turn on death penalty for juveniles

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)


Iran: sad turn on death penalty for juveniles Geneva, October 28th, 2008 - The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is deeply concerned about new information that Iran will continue to sentence to death minors who have committed murder. This new declaration by Hossein Zabhi, the Assistant Attorney General for Judicial Affairs goes back on a first statement announcing that death sentence will no longer be imposed on any under-18 juveniles whatever crime they have committed.

On 17th October, OMCT issued a press release welcoming the positive announcement by the Iranian Judiciary.1 Unfortunately, a few days later, the same authority announced in a new statement that death penalty was still applicable to juveniles who had committed murder. It went on explaining that, according to the Iranian law, the punishment for murder is based on the system of qesas (or retribution). It is considered a private dispute between two parties –the alleged offender and the victim’s family- where the state’s role is limited to the resolution of the dispute through the judicial process. Qesas is imposed by the victim’s family who is the sole able to pardon the alleged offender or to accept compensation. According to this system, the State authorities are not competent to modify the sentence.

It remains unclear why Iranian authorities went back on their first statement and whether the intention of the Iranian authorities was to mislead the Iranian and international human rights community. This does not take into account the situation of the juveniles on death row and their families who could rightfully understand from the initial statement that the death sentence would be commuted into prison term.

OMCT strongly calls the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the international norms it has adhered to and ratified such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Contact: World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), International Secretariat
Child Rights activities (Coordinator): Cécile Trochu Grasso,
Operations Unit (Director): Rolin Wavre,

8 rue du Vieux Billard
P.O. Box 21
1221 Geneva 8

Tel : 00 41 22 809 49 39
Fax : 0041 22 809 49 29
Internet :

1 OMCT, Iran: the end of the death penalty for juveniles? ; available on .

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