As EU officials visit Tehran, juvenile offenders are facing execution


European diplomats flocking to Iran, including German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, have chosen to ignore human rights, including the ongoing and imminent illegal execution of several juvenile offenders, denounced FIDH, DHRC, and LDDHI.


While we believe that dialogue is the way forward, states cannot ignore the fact that Iran is the world’s second greatest executioner and is currently threatening juvenile offenders with the death penalty,” stated Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.


The use of the death penalty in Iran has been increasing over the past several years, with 2015 slated to witness a record number of executions in the country since 1989[1], if executions continue at the present rate. Iranian authorities have officially acknowledged 246 executions between 1 January and 15 July 2015, although credible sources have reported a further 448 executions. This is only slightly below the number of executions reported for the entire year in 2014, indicating a very worrying trend of increasing executions. Several thousand others are believed to be on death row in Iran at present, for crimes ranging from murder to drug trafficking to blasphemy. 


In addition to the disturbingly high number of executions, Iran ranks first among the few countries that execute juvenile offenders. At least 160 of those currently on death row in Iran are believed to have been under 18 years old at the time they allegedly committed their crimes, which is a direct violation of international law, including the Convention of the Rights of the Child which Iran has signed and ratified. 


Despite the execution of juvenile offenders being forbidden under international law, Iran continues this practice today in the face of warming relations with the West,” declared Karim Lahidji. “The international community, including the EU, has a responsibility to make human rights a central component of their relations with Iran and to insist that these violations stop immediately.”


On 15 April of this year, Iran executed Javad Saberi for murder, despite having been only 17 years old and suffering from a serious mental illness when he allegedly committed his crime. There are several other juvenile offenders who await a similar fate: Salar Shadizadi is due to be executed on 1 August 2015 for a murder he supposedly committed when he was 15 years old. Hamid Ahmadi is also at imminent risk of execution, even though there are doubts about his age when he allegedly committed murder; some reports indicate he was 15 years old at the time, others register him as 16 years old. Saman Naseem, also sentenced to death for a crime he allegedly committed when he was 17 years old, was thought to have been secretly executed five months ago, and only just resurfaced in Zanjan prison.[2]


Our organisations urge the Iranian Government to immediately halt the execution of all juvenile offenders and to repeal the death penalty for minors, in accordance with international law, as a first step toward the full abolition of the death penalty. Furthermore, we implore the international community to insist that any economic and political relations with Iran must be contingent on the latter’s respect for human rights and its compliance with its obligations under international law.


[1]      Iran executed around 5,000 people in 1988, and more than 1,500 people in 1989.

[2]      For more information on Saman Naseem’s case see FIDH, DHRC, and LDDHI press release from 20 February 2015 :