The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the implementation of a death sentence for juvenile offender Salar Shadizadi, and ensure that a new request for a judicial review made by his lawyers earlier this week is granted without delay, said Amnesty International.
The execution of Salar Shadizadi, who was jailed and sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was just 15 years old, was originally scheduled for 1 August and then postponed to 10 August after an international outcry.
“Carrying out the execution of Salar Shadizadi would be a deeply tragic blow to Iran’s obligations under international human rights law, which strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under the age of 18. To carry out an execution while a judicial review of the case is being sought would also be a slap in the face of justice,” said Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Salar Shadizadi, now 24, was sentenced to death after a conviction for murder of a friend in 2007 under the Islamic principle of qesas (retribution-in-kind), which grants the victim’s family the exclusive right to pardon.
“The Iranian authorities are shirking their responsibilities by sentencing Salar Shadizadi to death and claiming afterwards that his fate is in the hands of the families involved. They must immediately quash his sentence and grant him a fair retrial without resorting to the death penalty,” said Said Boumedouha.
In 2013, Salar Shadizadi asked for a review of his case based on a provision of Iran’s revised Penal Code, passed into law in May 2013, which allows judges to exclude the use of the death penalty if they determine that the juvenile offender did not understand the nature of the crime or its consequences, or if there are doubts about the offender’s “mental growth and maturity”.
Amnesty International understands that this request was granted by Iran’s Supreme Court, but did not result in a retrial. Instead, Salar Shadizadi was referred to the Legal Medical Organization, which found that they could not examine his mental growth seven years after the event. This finding then came to the Supreme Court which upheld the death sentence.
At least 72 juvenile offenders are believed to have been executed in Iran between 2005 and 2014 and at least 160 juvenile offenders are believed to be on death row. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is scheduled to review Iran’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in January 2016.
Amnesty International recently exposed the shocking surge in executions in Iran during 2015. The reasons behind this year’s spike are unclear but the majority of those put to death in 2015 were convicted on drug charges.