Iran’s sickening enthusiasm for putting juveniles to death

Amnesty International:

Amnesty International has revealed that a teenager was executed in Iran after being convicted of the rape of another boy, the first confirmed execution of a juvenile offender in the country this year.

The organization, which has been carrying out extensive research into the situation of juvenile offenders on death row in Iran, found that Hassan Afshar, 19, was hanged in Arak’s Prison in Markazi Province on 18 July, after being convicted of “lavat-e be onf” (forced male to male anal intercourse) in early 2015. The execution went ahead even though the Office of the Head of the Judiciary had promised his family that they would review the case on 15 September 2016.

“Iran has proved that its sickening enthusiasm for putting juveniles to death, in contravention of international law, knows no bounds. Hassan Afshar was a 17-year-old high school student when he was arrested. He had no access to a lawyer and the judiciary rushed through the investigation and prosecution, convicting and sentencing him to death within two months of his arrest as though they could not execute him quickly enough,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

He had no access to a lawyer – so that made it very easy for the judiciary to “investigate” and convict him.

Just days after Hassan Afshar was executed, the authorities scheduled Alireza Tajiki, another youth who was under 18 at the time of his alleged offence, for execution. The implementation of his death sentence, which had been scheduled to take place on 3 August was, however, postponed yesterday following public pressure.

“While we welcome the stay of execution for Alireza Tajiki, his life has been saved for the moment because of public pressure and not because the Iranian authorities are seriously considering stopping the horrendous practice of executing juveniles. This is illustrated by the fact that just two weeks ago Hassan Afshar was hanged in anonymity – publicity should not make the difference between life and death,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.

Hassan Afshar was arrested in December 2014 after the authorities received a complaint accusing him and two other youths of forcing a teenage boy to have sexual intercourse with them. Hassan Afshar maintained that the sexual acts were consensual and that the complainant’s son had willingly engaged in same-sex sexual activities before.

While authorities must always investigate allegations of rape and, where sufficient admissible evidence is found, prosecute those responsible in fair trials, rape does not fall into the category of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law. Furthermore, the existence of laws in Iran that criminalize consensual male to male sexual intercourse with the death penalty means that if the intercourse in this case had been deemed consensual, the teenager who accused Hassan Afshar of rape would himself have been sentenced to death. The criminalization of same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults violates international human rights law.

Quite a trap, isn’t it – either you say he raped you, or we execute you. Of course women have been in that trap as far back as we can see.

At the Times, Bel Trew reports from Cairo:

Iran is second only to China in the number of people it executes, according to rights groups. A total of 977 people were executed in Iran last year, the highest death toll since 1989. Most were hanged on non-lethal charges such as drugs-related crimes. Iran also conducts public floggings.

At least 259 people have been executed this year, according to the US-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, which keeps a tally of media and official reports.

The latest mass execution allegedly took place yesterday when as many as 20 Sunni prisoners were killed in Gohardasht prison, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the exiled opposition movement.

Their relatives were told, “Sorry, too late to say good-bye.”

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