Iran accused of breaching international law over planned execution

Arman Abdolali was 17 when he was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend

Since 2020, Iran has executed at least four people who were aged under 18 at the time the crimes were committed. EyeEm
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Iran is preparing to execute a man convicted of a crime that took place when he was still a child under international law.

He was sentenced to death followed an unfair trial marred by confessions obtained through torture, according to a human rights group.

Arman Abdolali has been moved to solitary confinement in Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, on the outskirts of Tehran, in preparation for his execution on Wednesday, Amnesty International said.

Iran has signed an international agreement that outlaws the use of the death penalty against people who committed crimes while children. Abdolali was 17 when he was arrested.

He was sentenced to death in December 2015 after being convicted of murdering his girlfriend who disappeared a year earlier. Her body has never been found. The sentence was upheld in 2016 and he lost an appeal last year.

His execution has twice been scheduled in January 2020 and in July this year but was stopped after an international outcry, according to the group.

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned Iran for executing child offenders, saying it was a breach of international law. Iran signed a UN deal banning the practice in 1968, which was ratified seven years later.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says “the sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age” or pregnant women.

But under Iranian law, some crimes – including murder – can be treated as capital offences for those under 18. Amnesty called for a retrial for Abdolali and said the death sentence used in such cases was an “abhorrent assault on child rights”.

“The Iranian authorities are demonstrating their ruthless intent to resort to the death penalty in complete disregard for their obligations under international law by scheduling Arman Abdolali’s execution for a third time,” said Diana Eltahawy, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The Iranian authorities in August executed Sajad Sanjari, who was 15 when he was accused of stabbing a man to death. He claimed he was acting in self-defence.

Iran also executed at least three other people in 2020 who were under 18 at the time their crimes were committed.

Iran executes more prisoners than any other country bar China.

Updated: October 12, 2021, 10:27 AM