The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned Thursday Iranian officials’ fourth execution of a child offender in 2020, stating that the execution of child offenders is “categorically prohibited under international law.”
Mohammad Hassan Rezaiee was executed early Thursday morning for an offence allegedly committed by him at the age of 16. This was Iran’s fourth confirmed execution of a juvenile offender in 2020, while at least 80 others are believed to be on death row.
Iran is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 37 of the UNCRC prohibits capital punishment for offences committed by persons below the age of 18. The OHCHR said that the country’s recent spate of executions is, therefore, a marked breach of its international obligations, hinging only upon the reservation it made when ratifying the UNCRC that “if the text of the Convention is or becomes incompatible with the domestic laws and Islamic standards at any time or in any case, the Government of the Islamic Republic shall not abide by it.”
Amnesty International has repeatedly urged Iranian authorities to amend Article 91 of its penal code to abolish capital punishment for crimes committed by people under the age of 18.
The OHCHR also referred to the “troubling allegations” that Rezaiee was convicted on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture. Amnesty International reported that despite his young age, he had been kept in prolonged solitary confinement, beaten with sticks, kicked and punched, and whipped with pipe hoses.
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet “urges Iranian authorities to halt all executions of child offenders and immediately review their cases in line with international human rights law.”