Defend International has urged the Iranian authorities to take serious steps towards imposing an immediate moratorium on executions and providing a timetable for abolishing the capital punishment.
“As the world’s biggest executioner of child offenders, it is time for Iran to act immediately to restore some of the confidence of the international community,” said co-founder of Defend International Widad.
Defend International (DI) welcomes today’s anti-death-penalty rally in Stockholm and supports every effort to urge the Iranian authorities to stop practicing capital punishment. DI is unconditionally opposed to the death penalty, under all circumstances and in all countries, since it is a violation of the right to life and an extreme form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. DI is also categorically opposed to torture and other cruel punishments under any and all conditions.
Defend International is calling for changes to Iranian laws to end the death penalty for juvenile offenders, and also voices serious concern about the death sentences passed against human rights defenders, civil society activists and protesters. DI is, namely, concerned about the death sentence recently passed on three individuals involved in the protests that took place after Iran’s Presidential election. Mr. Mohammadreza Ali Zamani, 37, was sentenced to death for, inter alia, being an “enemy of God”.
“It is wrong to use violence to solve specific social problems and/or political tensions among various interest groups. We are witnessing the execution of justice,” said Widad, co-founder of Defend International. “Justice should not mean punishment. Punishment should not mean humiliation. On the contrary, any form of justice must be to strengthen and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to support the creation of a culture of human rights.”
At least 346 executions were carried out in Iran in 2008, and more than 140 people are on death row. Kurds and other members of minority communities in Iran are usually sentenced to death by hanging, with the sentence carried out inside detention centers.
DI strongly urges the Iranian authorities to abolish the death penalty completely, to guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout Iran, and to refrain from any unfair or inhumane practice that might violate international human rights standards.
DI had launched several campaigns calling for an end to the juvenile death penalty, while at the same time campaigning to stop the execution of Mr. Habibollah Latifi, Mr. Farzad Kamanger, Hiwa Butimar and Adnan Hassanpour, and calling for their retrial in proceedings that guarantee international standards of fair trial.
Iran has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention on the Rights of the Child. Both conventions forbid the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes that neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.
Delara Darabi was executed on May 1, 2009 at Rasht prison, for a crime that she was alleged to have committed when she was 17 years old.
“We are deeply concerned that Iran continues to flout international law by violating its international obligations not to execute juveniles,” Dr. Widad said.
DI has been informed by reliable sources that top Iranian officials are at the moment considering a new draft of juvenile justice law that could stop the death penalty of juvenile offenders. “As the world’s biggest executioner of child offenders, it is time for Iran to act immediately to address this issue and to restore some of the confidence of the international community,” said Dr. Widad.
Artwork by DI member Mr. Simko Ahmed.