Summary executions


Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentence of Soghra Najafpoor



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Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentence of Soghra Najafpoor
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 female (juvenile offender)
Character of reply: Largely satisfactory response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur appreciates the information provided by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran with respect to the death sentence of Soghra Najafpoor.
Urgent appeal dated 5 November 2007 sent with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture
We would like to draw the attention of your Government to information we have received regarding Soghra Najafpoor, who after having spent 18 years in prison is at imminent risk of execution, having been sentenced to death for murder committed when she was 13 years of age. Ms. Najafpoor was reportedly convicted of the killing of an 8 year boy. It was reported that the victim’s family has filled out the request for execution following Ms. Najafpoor’s recent release from prison.
As your Excellency is aware this is not the first case of juvenile offenders being sentenced to death and/or facing imminent execution we have received regarding Iran. Indeed, this is the tenth occasion that we have written to your Government this year concerning executions of juvenile offenders. While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of the allegations regarding this specific case, we would like to draw your attention once again to the fact that the execution of Sohgra Najafpoor as well as any further executions of juvenile offenders are incompatible with the international legal obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran under various instruments which we have been mandated to bring to the attention of Governments. Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Iran is a Party expressly provides that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age. In addition, Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a Party provides that the death penalty shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.
We would also like to underline that sentencing a juvenile to death in itself amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which is prohibited inter alia in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In this connection, we would also remind your Excellency of the discussions of this issue that took place between your Government and the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2005, in which the delegation stated that all executions of persons who had committed crimes under the age of eighteen had been halted. This was reiterated in a note verbale from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 8 March 2005 to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in which it was stated:
“In recent years the enactment of the death penalty for individuals aged under18 has been halted and there has been no instance of such punishments for the category of youth. The legal ban on under-aged capital punishment has been incorporated into the draft Bill on Juvenile Courts, which is at present before parliament for ratification.”
We would respectfully reiterate our appeal to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take all necessary steps to avoid executions that would be inconsistent with accepted standards of international human rights law. This includes, most urgently, the suspension of the execution of Ms. Najafpoor and the commutation of her sentence.
Response from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran dated 12 February 2008
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the penalty for premeditated murder has two aspects: l.private, 2. public. Since, the first one is in relation with denial and spoil of the rights of guardians of the murder victim, it is given priority and is of high importance. In the judicial system of Muslim countries, including I.R. Iran, "Qesas "(lex talionis-retribution in kind) is the verdict for premeditated murder. For that purpose, enforcement of Qesas depends upon the request to be made by guardians of the murder victim; and the Government is solely delegated to carry out the verdict, on behalf of the former.
The second aspect which deals with denial and spoil of the public rights is the responsibility of the Government for establishment and protection of security in the society. For realization of this responsibility, the lawmaker has anticipated five to fifteen years of imprisonment. In case of disclamation of Qesas by guardians of the murder victim, through payment of Diyeh (blood money) to guardians of the murder victim by the convicted party, imprisonment penalty shall be exercised. In other words, disclamation, on the side of guardians of the murder victim, puts an end to Qesas, but the penalty of imprisonment, still remains as the duty of govemment. So, sentence of Qesas is not open to pardon or amnesty by the state, in absence of consent from guardians of the murder victim. Meanwhile, the Govemment of the Islamic Republic of Iran strives to apply mechanisms, such as provision of financial assistance to the guardians, which might end in receiving the required consent from them.
Ms. Soghra Najafpour was sued on the basis of the complaint filed by guardians of the murder victim with the charge of premeditated murder. Following judicial procedures and investigations, at the presence of her lawyer, the court of first instance, ascertained her guilt and sentenced her to Qesas, through verdict No. 1122 dated 9 November, 1990. Pursuant to appeal by the convict and her lawyer, Branch 27 of the State Supreme Court confirmed the earlier verdict. With due regard to the insistence of guardians of the murder victim for carrying out the verdict, the state judicial system has been trying for resolution of the dispute through conciliation. Therefore, the case is in the conciliation procedure and enforcement of death penalty is not in the programme of work.
As the distinguished rapporteurs have mentioned, although there have been a few cases of murder under the age of 18, the pertinent authorities have been exerting their utmost effort to decrease carrying out verdicts to a level close to stop, with the hope of ultimate conciliation.
Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentence of Mohammad Reza Turk
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male (juvenile offender)
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Urgent appeal dated 14 November 2007
I would like to draw the attention of your Government to information I have received regarding Mohammad Reza Turk, who is at imminent risk of execution. He will reportedly be executed tomorrow morning at the in the central prison of Shiraz along with two other men. All three are convicted of murder in a village near Malayer in November 2005. At that time Mohammad Reza Turk was 16 years old. He is now 18 years old.
As your Excellency is aware this is not the first case of juvenile offenders being sentenced to death and/or facing imminent execution we have received regarding Iran. Indeed, this is the eleventh occasion that I have written to your Government this year concerning executions of juvenile offenders. While I do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of the allegations regarding this specific case, I would like to draw your attention once again to the fact that the execution of Mohammad Reza Turk as well as any further executions of juvenile offenders are incompatible with the international legal obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran under various instruments which we have been mandated to bring to the attention of Governments. Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Iran is a Party expressly provides that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age. In addition, Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a Party provides that the death penalty shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.
I would also like to underline that sentencing a juvenile to death in itself amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which is prohibited inter alia in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
In this connection, I would also remind your Excellency of the discussions of this issue that took place between your Government and the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2005, in which the delegation stated that all executions of persons who had committed crimes under the age of eighteen had been halted. This was reiterated in a note verbale from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 8 March 2005 to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in which it was stated:
“In recent years the enactment of the death penalty for individuals aged under18 has been halted and there has been no instance of such punishments for the category of youth. The legal ban on under-aged capital punishment has been incorporated into the draft Bill on Juvenile Courts, which is at present before parliament for ratification.”
I would respectfully reiterate our appeal to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take all necessary steps to avoid executions that would be inconsistent with accepted standards of international human rights law. This includes, most urgently, the suspension of the execution of Mohammad Reza Turk and the commutation of his sentence.
Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentence of Makwan Mouloudzadah
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male (juvenile offender)
Character of reply: Largely satisfactory response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur appreciates the information provided by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, the SR remains concerned by the interpretation by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran of the provision that “sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”, a provision which is properly interpreted to limit the death penalty to crimes in which there is an intention to kill and a resulting loss of life.
Allegation letter dated 14 December 2007 sent with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture
We would like to draw the attention of your Government to information we have received regarding Makwan Mouloudzadah who was executed on 5 December, 2007 for rapes allegedly committed when he was a minor. Mr Mouloudzadah aged 20 at the time of his execution was sentenced to death on 25 May, 2007 by Branch Seven of the Penal Court of the City of Kermanshah for the rape of three boys when he was 13 years of age. On 19 July 2007 the Supreme Court of Iran upheld the death sentence. It is my understanding that the execution occurred despite the retraction on the part of the witnesses during the trial of their evidence, despite reports that Mouloudzadah’s confessions were coerced, and despite the fact that the Head of the Judiciary in Iran had ordered that the death sentence be suspended, and ordered a review. The case was supposed to be reviewed in Tehran, but was sent back to Kermanshah, where local judicial authorities quickly approved the execution.
As your Excellency is aware this is not the first case of juvenile offenders being executed or facing imminent execution we have received regarding Iran. Indeed, this is the twelfth occasion that we have written to your Government this year concerning executions of juvenile offenders. While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of the allegations regarding this specific case, we would like to draw your attention once again to the fact that the execution of Makwan Mouloudzadah as well as any further executions of juvenile offenders are incompatible with the international legal obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran under various instruments which we have been mandated to bring to the attention of Governments. Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Iran is a Party expressly provides that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age. In addition, Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a Party provides that the death penalty shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age
In this connection, we would also remind your Excellency of the discussions of this issue that took place between your Government and the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2005, in which the delegation stated that all executions of persons who had committed crimes under the age of eighteen had been halted. This was reiterated in a note verbale from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 8 March 2005 to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in which it was stated:
“In recent years the enactment of the death penalty for individuals aged under18 has been halted and there has been no instance of such punishments for the category of youth. The legal ban on under-aged capital punishment has been incorporated into the draft Bill on Juvenile Courts, which is at present before parliament for ratification.”
We would also like to draw your Government’s attention to the due process rights which all persons have, and which are especially important when there is the possibility of the application of the death penalty. Under Art 14(3)(g) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), defendants have the right not to be compelled to confess guilt. And importantly, given the facts alleged here, under Art 14(5) of the ICCPR, anyone convicted of a crime has the right to have that conviction and sentence reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law. It seems that Makwan Mouloudzadah may have been denied this basic right, and that as a result, he was executed – despite the fact that a senior Judge had ordered a review in his case.
We would also like to underline that sentencing a juvenile to death in itself amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which is prohibited inter alia in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
We would respectfully reiterate our appeal to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take all necessary steps to avoid executions that would be inconsistent with accepted standards of international human rights law.
Annex:
Applicable principles of international human rights law:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Articles 3 and 6 of these instruments, respectively, provide that every individual has the right to life and security of the person, that this right shall be protected by law and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life. Besides, article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that the death penalty shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
- Convention on the Rights of the Child, General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989. Article 6 provides that State Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. In addition, article 37(a) provides that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.
- United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (“The Beijing Rules”), General Assembly resolution 40/33 of 29 November 1985. In particular, rules 14, 15 and 17.2 provide for the right to a fair and just trial for juvenile offenders and prohibit the imposition of capital punishment for any crime committed by juveniles.
- Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty, Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984. In particular, paragraph 3 provides that persons below eighteen years of age at the time of the commission of the crime shall not be sentenced to death.
Response from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran dated 10 December 2007 and 28 December 2007
The Government informed that statements of several witnesses and victims and the repeated confessions made by Makwan Moloudzadeh and members of his hooligans group, as well as the conformity and correspondence between the confessions and the details expressed by victims and witnesses led to substantiation and further confirmation of the charges by the Court and issuing of verdict on one of the cases, from amongst the collection of charges filed against him in relation with raping of juveniles. Commander of Gendarmerie Forces of Paveh had already reported and confirmed the existence of the hooligan network of Mr. Moloudzadeh being involved in ravishment, raping, blackmail, assault and battery and knife-stabbing. Repeated commitment of crimes after the age of 18, are ascertained by the court of justice and the allegation of his minority, or under age at the time of committing crimes is categorically unfounded and denied. The Provincial Court, comprised of five judges, unanimously found him guilty through Verdict No. 35 of 7 June 2007, and sentenced him to punishment in accordance with the law. Therefore, the allegation of issuing a verdict on the basis of the judge’s personal knowledge is baseless and rejected. The State Supreme Court, pursuant to exhausting of examinations and domestic remedies confirmed the verdict No. 423 of 1 August 2007. In the course of investigations the accused enjoyed the services of two lawyers. None of the Judiciary Branches and Appeal had any hesitation in confirming the verdict and the delay was merely due to making further examination and assurance of the age of Mr. Moloudzadeh (21 years of age was ascertained); and the verdict was carried out upon the approval. The Government informed that the use of hanging as a punishment against a criminal who had repeatedly (even after the age of 18) committed crimes such as raping and organization of gang groups which inter alia have destroyed lives of eleven juveniles (boys and girls) and has left irreparable and everlasting psychological bitter impacts on their lives, is considered a major crime and no international document or commitment disapproves that.
Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentence of Behnood
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male (juvenile offender)
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Urgent appeal dated 27 December 2007 sent with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture
We would like to draw the attention of your Government to information we have received regarding a young man identified as Behnood, who is at imminent risk of execution. He will reportedly be executed in the coming days following the confirmation by the Supreme Court of a death sentence. Behnood was convicted by a court in Tehran of murdering another boy during a street fight, when he was 17 years old.
As your Excellency is aware this is not the first case of juvenile offenders being sentenced to death and/or facing imminent execution we have received regarding Iran. Indeed, this is the thirteenth occasion that we have written to your Government this year concerning executions of juvenile offenders. While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of the allegations regarding this specific case, we would like to draw your attention once again to the fact that the execution of Behnood as well as any further executions of juvenile offenders are incompatible with the international legal obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran under various instruments which we have been mandated to bring to the attention of Governments. Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Iran is a Party expressly provides that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age. In addition, Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a Party provides that the death penalty shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.
We would also like to underline that sentencing a juvenile to death in itself amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which is prohibited inter alia in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
In this connection, we would also remind your Excellency of the discussions of this issue that took place between your Government and the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2005, in which the delegation stated that all executions of persons who had committed crimes under the age of eighteen had been halted. This was reiterated in a note verbale from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 8 March 2005 to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in which it was stated:
“In recent years the enactment of the death penalty for individuals aged under18 has been halted and there has been no instance of such punishments for the category of youth. The legal ban on under-aged capital punishment has been incorporated into the draft Bill on Juvenile Courts, which is at present before parliament for ratification.”
We would respectfully reiterate our appeal to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take all necessary steps to avoid executions that would be inconsistent with accepted standards of international human rights law. This includes, most urgently, the suspension of the execution of Behnood and the commutation of his sentence.
Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentence of Zohreh and Azar Kabiri
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 2 females
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Urgent appeal dated 13 February 2008 sent with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture
In this connection, we would like to draw the attention of your Government to information we have received regarding two women, Ms. Zohreh, aged 27, and Ms. Azar Kabiri, aged 28, two sisters from Khademabad, near Karaj, who have been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. According to the information received:
On 5 February 2007, they were arrested in connection with allegations of adultery. On 17 March 2007, they were prosecuted in court, found guilty, and sentenced to 99 lashes. This sentence was executed but for unknown reasons, both women were returned to prison. Another trial took place for the same charges and they were sentenced to death by stoning on 5 August 2007. The Supreme Court later confirmed the sentence and they are currently awaiting the execution.
Although the death penalty is not prohibited under international law, we would like to remind your Excellency’s Government that, as the first Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions stated in 1985, the Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty adopted by the Economic and Social Council would “serve as criteria for ascertaining whether an execution is of a summary or arbitrary nature” (E/CN.4/1985/17, para. 24). These safeguards provide that “In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, capital punishment may be imposed only for the most serious crimes, it being understood that their scope should not go beyond intentional crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences.” It is our view that the death penalty as applied in this case does not fall within the category of the “most serious crimes” for which international law countenances its possible application. In its General Comment No. 6, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has stated that “the expression ‘most serious crimes’ must be read restrictively to mean that the death penalty should be a quite exceptional measure”. Similarly, that Committee has observed that the restriction encapsulated in that phrase cannot be interpreted as permitting the imposition of the death penalty “for crimes of an economic nature, for corruption and for adultery, or for crimes that do not result in loss of life” (CCPR/C/28/Add.15, 3 August 2003, paragraph 8).
We would also like to draw your Government’s attention to Resolution 2005/39 of the Commission on Human Rights, which reminded Governments that corporal punishment, can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or even to torture. In this context, we would like to recall the report of the Special Rapporteur on torture to the 60th session of the General Assembly, in which he, with reference to the jurisprudence of UN treaty bodies, concluded that any form of corporal punishment is contrary to the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. He also noted that States cannot invoke provisions of domestic law to justify violations of their human rights obligations under international law, including the prohibition of corporal punishment and called upon States to abolish all forms of judicial and administrative corporal punishment without delay (A/60/316, para. 28). Both the Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture have called for the abolition of judicial corporal punishment. In paragraph 5 of General Comment No. 20 (1992), the Human Rights Committee stated that the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment must extend to corporal punishment, including excessive chastisement ordered as punishment for a crime.
In the event that your investigations support or suggest the above allegations to be correct, we urge your Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of Ms. Zohreh and Ms. Azar Kabiri are respected.
In view of the urgency of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial steps taken by your Excellency’s Government to safeguard the rights of Ms. Zohreh and Ms. Azar Kabiri in compliance with the above international instruments.


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