Amnesty International: Iran Must Halt Imminent Execution of 2 Men Arrested as Teenagers
Breathing in Confinement – The Iranian authorities must urgently stop the imminent execution of two long-time death row prisoners who were children at the time of their arrest, Amnesty International said today.
According to the statement of Amnesty International, one of the men, Mehdi Bahlouli, is due to be executed tomorrow morning in Karaj’s Raja’i Shahr Prison, after more than 15 years on death row. He was sentenced to death by a criminal court in Tehran in November 2001 for fatally stabbing a man during a fight. He was 17 at the time of the crime.
His execution is scheduled to be implemented along with 13 other inmates tomorrow.
The execution of the second man, Peyman Barandah, is scheduled to take place just three weeks later, on 10 May, in Shiraz Central Prison, Fars Province, the rights group said.
He was arrested at the age of 16 and spent nearly five years on death row, after being convicted in August 2012, also for stabbing a teenager to death during a fight.
“Carrying out the executions of these two young men would be an outrageous breach of international human rights law that would cement Iran’s position as one of the world’s top executors of juvenile offenders,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Mehdi Bahlouli has spent his entire young adult life on death row. His shocking ordeal epitomizes the cruelty of Iran’s juvenile justice system which regularly sentences juvenile offenders to death in violation of international human rights law and then subjects them to prolonged periods on death row. The anguish and torment of living their lives in the shadow of the gallows also amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment.”
Mehdi Bahlouli’s family told Amnesty International that they received a call from the prison on Saturday informing them to attend for their last visit. He was transferred to solitary confinement on Sunday in preparation for his execution.
Iran’s recently amended 2013 Islamic Penal Code gives judges the option to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment if they determine that the juvenile offender did not understand the nature of the crime or its consequences, or his or her “mental growth and maturity” were in doubt.
In January 2017, Mehdi Bahlouli’s request for retrial was denied. This decision blatantly contradicts the Iranian authorities’ statement to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2016 that “all adolescents who were under 18 at the time of committing the crime are granted retrials [under Iran’s 2013 new Islamic Penal Code] and their previous verdicts are annulled by the Supreme Court.”
“The Iranian authorities have touted the 2013 Islamic Penal Code as evidence that the country is moving away from the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders. However, these two scheduled executions show these claims are empty rhetoric,” said Philip Luther.
“Instead of intensifying the mental anguish and suffering of juvenile offenders by letting them languish on death row for long periods, Iran must urgently amend its penal code to completely abolish the use of the death penalty for crimes committed while under 18, commute the death sentences of all juvenile offenders and establish an official moratorium on executions.”
Since the beginning of the year, at least two young men, Arman Bahrasemani and Hassan Hassanzadeh, were executed for crimes that took place when they were under 18 years of age.
According to Amnesty International’s report on death sentences and executions in 2016, Iran carried out at least 567 executions last year, including at least two executions of people who were under 18 at the time of the crime. Unofficial reports indicate 5 further execution of juvenile offenders in 2016.