Summary executions


Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentence of Mohammad Reza Haddadi



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Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentence of Mohammad Reza Haddadi
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 (recent communication)
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur looks forward to receiving a response concerning these allegations.
Urgent appeal dated 29 February 2008 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 Mr. Mohammad Reza Haddadi, who was reportedly sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was still a minor.
According to the information we have received:
On 6 January 2004, Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death by the Criminal Court in Kazeroon for the kidnapping and murder of a taxi driver called Mohammed Bagher Rahmat. The events took place in August 2003, when Mr. Haddadi was only 15 years old. On 3 July 2005 the Supreme Court of Iran upheld the death sentence. Reportedly, Mr. Haddadi is currently detained in Adel Abad jail in the city of Shiraz, and is at imminent risk of 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, in 2007 alone the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has written on twelve occasions to your Government 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 Mohammad Reza Haddadi and any further executions of juvenile offenders would be 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 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.
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 Mr. Haddadi and the commutation of his sentence
It is our responsibility under the mandates provided by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:

1. Are the facts alleged above accurate? If not so, please share all information and documents proving their inaccuracy.


2. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions also recalls my communications dated 5 January 2007 and 31 January 2007 seeking confirmation of the current status of the Bill on Juvenile Courts. What provisions will that law, once it enters into force, contain with regard to capital punishment for juvenile offenders?
3. Finally, we would respectfully reiterate the request made earlier by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for a comprehensive and detailed indication of the details of individuals who have been sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were less than eighteen years of age, even if such sentences have not yet been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
Islamic Republic of Iran: Death Sentences Shahbano Naddam, Tayebe Hojati, Soheila and Akram Mahdavi
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 4 females
Character of reply: No response (recent communication)
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur looks forward to receiving a response concerning these allegations.
Urgent appeal dated 7 March 2008 sent with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
We would like to draw the attention of your Government to information we have received regarding Ms. Shahbano Naddam, Ms. Tayebe Hojati, Ms. Soheila and Ms. Akram Mahdavi, who have reportedly been sentenced to death and are now at imminent risk of execution.
According to the information received:
Shahbano Naddam was arrested eleven years ago for the murder of her husband and sentenced to death. She claims that her husband committed suicide, and a forensic examination reportedly concluded that this was a possibility. She claimed that she had initially confessed to the murder for fear that her son would be accused instead.
Tayebe Hojati was convicted eight years ago of the murder of her husband and sentenced to death.
Soheila, was sentenced to death for the murder of her five day old baby. It is alleged that her son was born as a result of a relationship with a drug addict who had given her refuge a year earlier. As she refused to name the father the complaint was made by the Teheran Prosecutor and she was sentenced to qesas which reportedly is not open to pardon or amnesty by the Supreme Leader.
Akram Mahdavi was convicted five years ago of the murder of her husband and sentenced to death. Ms Mahdavi was forced to marry her husband who was 40 years older than she was. The man who helped her commit the crime will be freed by paying 60,000,000 Tomans “Dieh” (blood money).
We are bringing these cases to the attention of Your Excellency’s Government because in relation to each of them the information provided to us raises concern that each of the condemned women were sentenced to death following trials that may have fallen short of international fair trial standards and may not have respected the principle of non discrimination on the basis of sex.
While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we would like to remind your Excellency’s Government that although the death penalty is not prohibited under international law, it must be regarded as an extreme exception to the fundamental right to life, and must as such be interpreted in the most restrictive manner. Therefore, it is crucial that all restrictions and fair trial standards pertaining to capital punishment contained in international human rights law are fully respected in proceedings relating to capital offences.
At present, we would like to highlight the following standards relating to the imposition of the death penalty:
1) “in capital punishment cases, the obligation of States parties to observe rigorously all the guarantees for a fair trial set out in Article 14 of the [ICCPR] admits of no exception” (Little v. Jamaica, communication no. 283/1988, Views of the Human Rights Committee of 19 November 1991, para. 10);
2) “anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.” (Article 6(4) ICCPR).
In addition, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, to which Iran is a Party, provides in its Article 2 that States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake: … (c) To establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination; (d) To refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation.
The Commission on Human Rights in its Resolution 2005/41 on the Elimination on Violence against women further noted that all forms of violence against women occur within the context of de jure and de facto discrimination against women and the lower status accorded to women in society and are exacerbated by the obstacles women often face in seeking remedies from the State.
It is our responsibility under the mandates provided to us by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the case accurate?
2. Please provide details regarding the fairness, in terms of international legal standards, of the trials accorded to Shahbano Naddam, Tayebe Hojati, Soheila and Akram Mahdavi and of the sentences imposed on them.
3. Please provide details of any avenues of appeal already exercised by the defendants and those still open to them to challenge their conviction and sentence.
Iraq: Death Sentences of Wassan Talib and Samar Sa’ad Abdullah
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 Iraq has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Urgent appeal dated 21 May 2007
I would like to draw the attention of your Government to information I have received regarding two persons, Wassan Talib and Samar Sa’ad Abdullah, both of whom I understand to be at imminent risk of execution. Wassan Talib was sentenced to death on 31 August, 2006 by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq for the 2005 murder of several members of the Iraqi security forces in Baghdad. Samar Sa’ad Abdullah was sentenced to death on 15 August, 2005 by the Central Criminal Court of al-Karkh for the murders of several members of her family. The Court of Cassation reportedly confirmed their sentences in February 2007.
Although the death penalty is not prohibited under international law, whenever it is applied it is essential that all restrictions and fair trial standards pertaining to capital punishment contained in international human rights law are fully respected in the relevant proceedings. I do not have any detailed accounts of the procedures followed in relation to the trials of these two individuals. I have no reason to believe, however, that they differed in any significant respect from those generally followed in the relevant courts. Based on what I consider to be reliable reports on the pre-trial and trial procedures currently followed before the Central Criminal Court of Iraq and other criminal courts of Iraq as well as appeals before the Court of Cassation, I am very concerned that the various fair trial standards required, especially in relation to capital offences, have not been met.
(1) It is reported that the authorities routinely fail to promptly advise detainees of the reasons for their arrest and subsequently of the details of the charges and evidence against them, thus violating the requirements of Article 9(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (“the ICCPR”).
(2) The authorities routinely fail to bring defendants promptly before an investigative judge within 24 hours of arrest as required by Article 123 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, thus raising concerns as to compliance with Article 9(3) of the ICCPR. It is investigating judges who are required to carry out initial investigations into offences, although in practice it is reported that many defendants charged with capital offences confess while at police stations under the control of the Ministry of Interior. It is also reported that police frequently escort the accused to their first interrogation before an investigating judge. Confessions made before investigating judges are often given substantial weight at trials and confessions obtained under coercion are not specifically prohibited by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
(3) Defendants are frequently denied the right to an adequate defence. They are denied access to evidence against them, as well as to their counsel within a reasonable period of time that would enable them to mount an effective defense. These procedural defects amount to a violation of Article 14(3)(b) of the ICCPR. In practice there is a lack of adequate access to court-appointed counsel prior to the initial investigative hearing and subsequently. The vast majority of defendants are represented by counsel appointed by the court, whom they have never met and who have little or no knowledge of the charges or evidence against their clients. Access to defense counsel is routinely denied during the first sixty days of detention, and subsequently access to privately employed defence counsel is not facilitated, notwithstanding Article 123 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which provides for the right to be represented by legal counsel when being questioned during the pre-trial period. In a great many cases the system allocating court appointed counsel works against defendants, since they are not represented by the same counsel at the investigative or trial stage, eroding further their chances of securing an effective defense.
(4) Trial proceedings are usually brief, with sessions often lasting no more than fifteen to thirty minutes, during which the entire trial is concluded. Deliberations also typically do not last more than several minutes for each trial, including in complex cases involving serious crimes resulting in sentences of life imprisonment or the death penalty. It is not possible, in relation to complex cases, and especially instances in which the death penalty is a consideration, to dispose of the proceedings in such summary fashion without violating Article 14(1) ICCPR providing ”Everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent, impartial tribunal established by law”.
(5) Defendants are often unaware of their rights under the law, including the right of appeal against sentence. Under Iraqi law, appeals must be filed with the Court of Cassation within 30 days of the verdict. It is reported that no appeals may be filed in the cases of many who have been sentenced to death and who have been represented by a court-appointed lawyer. However, even where the accused has been able to hire a lawyer of his own choosing, denial of prompt and adequate access to counsel mean that in many cases those convicted lose the opportunity to appeal their sentences as they become aware of their rights only after the deadline for submissions has passed. As a result appeal procedures frequently violate article 14(5) ICCPR which provides “Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law”.
Unless your Excellency’s Government is able to demonstrate respect for these essential procedural and substantive protections, which flow from the international obligations accepted by Iraq, in the cases involving Wassan Talib and Samar Sa’ad Abdullah, the death sentences imposed must be commuted.
Since I am expected to report on these cases to the UN Human Rights Council, I would be grateful for your cooperation and careful response to the issues raised. In addition to an expeditious first reply, I would greatly appreciate being informed about the further developments in this case.
Iraq: Death Sentences of Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan, Hashim Ahmad al-Ta’i and Hussain Rashid al-Tikriti
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 3 males
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Iraq has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Urgent appeal dated 11 September 2007
I would like to draw the attention of your Government to information I have received regarding Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan, Hashim Ahmad al-Ta’i and Hussain Rashid al-Tikriti who are at imminent risk of execution.
According to information I have received:
The three were sentenced to death on 24 June, 2007 by the Special Iraqi Criminal Tribunal for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and had their sentences confirmed by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal on 4 September, 2007. The charges related to their roles during the 1988 Anfal Campaign of 1988 when 180 000 Iraqi Kurds died.

While I do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these reports, I would like recall that “in capital punishment cases, the obligation of States parties to observe rigorously all the guarantees for a fair trial set out in Article 14 of the (ICCPR) admits of no exception” (Little v. Jamaica, communication no. 283/1988, Views of the Human Rights Committee of 19 November 1991, para. 10).


I would note that I previously wrote to your Excellency’s Government by letter dated 7 July 2006 raising concerns about proceedings before the Supreme Iraqi Criminal tribunal involving Saddam Hussein and other indictees. In the cases of Mr Al-Majjid, Mr al-Ta’i and Hussain Rashid al-Tikriti your Excellency’s Government is similarly well aware of the serious concerns raised with regard to the compliance of the above trial with the requirements of a fair trial. These include the reported denial of the right (article 14(3)(e) ICCPR) to “examine, or have examined the witnesses against him”, in addition to the fact that many witnesses give evidence without their identity being revealed to the defence. Interference in the trials of the Court by Iraqi politicians has also been widely reported (exemplified by the resignation of judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin and the removal of judge Said Hameesh).
I would reiterate concerns previously expressed regarding Article 27(2) of the Law of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, the first sentence of which reads: “No authority, including the President of the Republic, may grant a pardon or reduce the penalties issued by this Tribunal.” This provision would appear to be irreconcilable with paragraph 4 of Article 6 ICCPR, providing that “[a]nyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of the sentence of death may be granted in all cases.”
I am also gravely concerned about the second sentence of Article 27(2), providing that “[p]enalties shall be enforced within thirty days of the sentence or decision reaching finality.” Considering the irremediable nature of capital punishment, this provision would appear to fail to take into account the numerous serious legal issues which, as the experience of other countries retaining the death penalty shows, can and do arise even after a death sentence has become “final”. A period of thirty days does not provide sufficient time for the defence or for the wheels of justice to respond adequately to any subsequent issues that might be raised.
In the light of the above considerations, I would again urge your Excellency’s Government to repeal Article 27(2) of the Law on the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, or amend it as necessary to bring it in compliance with your Government’s obligations under international law. As set forth above, this will require providing for the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence for convicts sentenced to death, as well as for adequate time to effectively exercise this right.
Unless your Excellency’s Government is able to demonstrate respect for these essential procedural and substantive protections, which flow from the international obligations accepted by Iraq, in the cases of involving Mr Al-Majjid, Mr al-Ta’i and Mr. al-Tikriti, the death sentences imposed must be commuted.
Israel: Killing of Yehia al-Jabari
Violation alleged: Death due to attacks or killings by security forces of the State
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Israel has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 28 June 2007
I am writing concerning Mr. Yehia al-Jabari who was shot dead by the Israeli military on 6 June, 2007 in Hebron and other family members who were shot and wounded. It is my understanding that at about 00.20 on 6 June, 2007 approximately 50 Israeli soldiers came to the house of Yehia al- Jabari in the B’er Haram area of Hebron city. Upon gaining entry to the house, soldiers reportedly dragged Rajih al-Jabari, the son of Yehia al-Jabari outside and violently assaulted him. At this point Yahia al-Jabari came outside his house together with his wife, Fatima and attempted to intervene to protect his son. He was shot once in the forehead by an Israeli soldier and died instantly. Fatima al-Jabari began screaming and attempted to reach her husband’s body. At this point she was shot six times by an Israeli soldier and fell to the ground. Thereafter Radi and Kamil sons of Yehia exited their house and attempted to move their father’s body from the steps where it was lying. Radi ignored shouts of a soldier to stop and was shot in the foot by an Israeli soldier.
It is my understanding that an Israeli spokeswoman stated that Palestinians in the house had thrown objects at the soldiers and that one person had tried to seize a soldier´s gun. The spokeswoman reported: "As soon as the force entered the structure a group of around 10 Palestinians started to attack the force and wounded one of the officers. It led to a struggle in which a soldier had to open fire after a Palestinian grabbed his weapon”.
In this connection, I would like to refer your Excellency's Government to its obligations reflected in a variety of international instruments. Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party, provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life. In its General Comment on Article 6, the Human Rights Committee has observed “that States parties should take measures not only to prevent and punish deprivation of life by criminal acts, but also to prevent arbitrary killing by their own security forces. The deprivation of life by the authorities of the State is a matter of the utmost gravity. Therefore, the law must strictly control and limit the circumstances in which a person may be deprived of his life by such authorities."
The conduct alleged would be equally unlawful in an armed conflict. Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 provides that "[p]ersons taking no active part in hostilities . . . shall in all circumstances be treated humanely" and, moreover, that such persons shall not be subjected to "violence to life and person, in particular murder...." The substance of this treaty provision is understood to apply as a matter of customary international law to every kind of armed conflict.
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on this case to the Human Rights Council, I would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the allegations in the above summary of the events accurate?
2. What were the instructions given to the security forces before and during the above mentioned operations by the army?
3. Please provide details of any investigation or inquiry that been launched into the above incident.
4. Please provide details of the results of any autopsies conducted in this case.
5. Will those injured by security forces and the family members of those killed

be compensated?




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