The Iranian Regime executed seven child offenders in 2018 and two so far this year, despite the fact that human rights law bans the death penalty from being applied to anyone under the age of 18, a UN independent human rights expert said Wednesday.
Javaid Rehman, the UN special investigator on human rights in Iran, told the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee that he has “credible information” that at least 90 child offenders are currently on death row in Iran.
Rehman, a British-Pakistani professor of Islamic law, also expressed concern at the overall execution rate in Iran, saying it remains “one of the highest in the world” and that “conservative estimates indicate that at least 173 executions have been carried out” in 2019.
Regarding the overall situation on human rights in Iran, Rehman cited several “distressing factors”, including the dire economic situation that has “serious consequences for the realization of economic and social rights”.
Rehman said that human rights in Iran have been increasing “intimidated, harassed, arrested and detained”, citing the arrest of at least eight prominent lawyers for defending political prisoners and human rights defenders in the period September 2018-July 2019. He said that many of the lawyers received lengthy sentences.
Rehman also noted that striking workers at the Haft Tappeh sugar mill, who have been calling for better protection of labor rights have been arrested on national security-related charges, something commonly used against political activists, and seven of those peaceful protesters were sentenced to between six and 19 years in prison. He explained that journalists reporting on labor rights protests have also been arrested and detained, something that attracted the condemnation of Reporters Without Borders.
Meanwhile, at least 32 people have been arrested since January 2018 for protesting the regime’s compulsory hijab laws. Most of these have been women, who have received harsher sentences than their male counterparts, according to Rehman. He also advised that cultural workers and artists are “reportedly being subjected to arrest and detention for their work”.
Rehman further detailed the intense pressure on ethnic and religious minorities, who are disproportionately represented on death row for national security-related charges and in the political prisoner wards.
He said: “They are subject to arbitrary arrests and detention for their participation in a range of peaceful activities such as advocacy for the use of minority languages, for organizing or taking part in peaceful protests, and for affiliation with opposition parties.”