On the 18th of December, Iranian authorities planned to carry out the execution of 30-year-old Mohammad Hassan Rezaiee for crimes he was forced to confess when he was only 16 years old. Several sources say that these confessions have been extracted under torture. In spite of he and his lawyer claiming that the confessions were obtained via torture while he was held by the Investigation Unit of Iran’s Police (Agahi) in Bandare Anzali, Gilan province, an Iranian court relied on these forced confessions to convict and sentence Rezaiee to death. Following this decision, Iran’s Supreme Court dramatically upheld the conviction and death sentence.
Rezaiee has been on death row for more than 12 years but has been recently transferred to solitary confinement after his family was told that his execution would be carried out in a week’s time. Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International Diana Eltahawy expressed her discontentment and said, “The Iranian authorities are yet again waging an abhorrent assault on children’s rights and making an absolute mockery of juvenile justice” as well as “imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of a crime is a serious violation of international human rights law, which absolutely prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by children.”
This case which enters the frame of juvenile justice further highlights Iran’s violation of rights. Moreover, it is clear that Iranian authorities are proceeding despite his grossly unfair trial and the absence of any investigation into Rezaiee’s allegations of torture or other ill-treatment. It is important to note that Iran is one of the last countries in the world to continue to allow the death penalty for crimes committed by children. It is worth saying that this is in violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
To depict the main events, it was in 2007 that 16 year-old Rezaiee was arrested in relation to the fatal stabbing of a man in a group fight. Thereafter, his trial was grossly unfair and even considering his young age, the authorities held him in prolonged solitary confinement, without access to his family nor lawyer. Ever since, Rezaiee and his family have been struggling with financial means to hire a lawyer in order to submit a retrial request on his behalf based on Article 91 of the 2013 Penal Code, through which an alternative punishment to the death penalty could be agreed if any court determines that “a juvenile defendant did not understand the nature or consequences of the crime,” or if their “mental growth and maturity” at the time of the crime were in doubt.
In April this year, Iranian authorities arrested and executed two other young men Shayan Saeedpour and Majid Esmailzadeh. Several NGOs say that at least 90 juvenile offenders are still on death row in Iran today. It is crucial to immediately halt Rezaiee’s execution, squash his sentence, and grant him the most fair retrial in full compliance with the rules of juvenile justice.
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