Child executions

Photo courtesy of Children First Now
AP photo provided by
Children First Now

Mohamad Jamali Paghal’eh Zamani allegedly killed his friend when Zamani was 15 years old. A children’s court sentenced him to 5 years in prison, but the supreme court denied the sentence and issued a death sentence.

“The world should not be silent in the face of these executions. Children are the most vulnerable members of society; the majority of these child offenders were either framed or suffer serious psychological illnesses, and have had no access to fair trials.”
~Hadi Ghaemi, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Only five nations in the world continue impose the death penalty on people who were underage (less than 18 years) at the time that they allegedly committed a crime. These countries are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. Iran under Islamic rule holds the leading position in juvenile executions. The real number of juveniles executed for political or criminal charges is unknown; at this moment there are over 140 juvenile offenders on death row.

List of alleged child offenders awaiting execution in the Islamic Republic of Iran
List of alleged child offenders who have been executed under the Islamic Republic of Iran

Description of the problem
Executions in the last 30 years have been a fundamental part of the Islamic regime’s internal policies. The majority of these executions have been carried out in public, and this, as the regime without any shame officially declares, is “to insert the fury of God in the hearts of God’s people.” Execution of juvenile offenders has continued in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) despite the fact that Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other human rights watchdogs have repeatedly urged IRI to cease these executions and seriously consider amendment of the civil code to prohibit executions for crimes committed under the age of 18. It is recognized by everyone, including the IRI’s judiciary officials, that these executions are clear violations of international law (see “International Standards,” below). But protests by the international community have not led to any significant changes in this regime’s behaviour.

As in other countries like the United States, those who are poor are disproportionately likely to suffer this punishment: children whose families are poor who can’t pay blood money (qesas), or children whose families are not accorded full legal status in Iran such as Afghan refugees, or street children with no one in a position to defend them, are the ones who are more likely to end up on death row.

Although the execution of a single child offender is an indictment of the legitimacy of the sentencing government, some governments are in fact worse offenders than others. The figure below shows the trend in the execution of childhood offenders according to presidential leadership (data obtained from Amnesty International). It is clear that the tenor of the Islamic Republic of Iran changed from 2004 forward, when executions of child offenders in Iran experienced a pronounced increase just before Ahmadinejad’s first term as president; this increase has remained high and fairly stable throughout the duration of Ahmadinejad’s presidency.

We severely oppose the capital punishment in general, and we oppose the even more appalling capital punishment for juveniles in particular. When execution of our people becomes a policy, and Qesas (1), Hadd (2), and Shari’a “law” (3) are fundamental instruments of addressing social, political and economical issues, the victims are not only the children executed in accordance with an inhumane Islamic judiciary system. This inhumane ideology is “creating a truculent society alienated to compassion, and regenerating itself through a culture of revenge, incivility and asperity (Bahrini, Children First Now).”

Summary and conclusions
While the IRI leads the world in executing child offenders, it is our firm conviction that this regime is susceptible to political pressure both from inside and outside of the country, particularly since the 2009 election.

photo provided by Children First Now

We can not expect the international community by itself to take serious political and legal measures to force the Islamic regime to respect international laws and conventions. And while we deeply admire and support the efforts of the international organizations addressing the issue of child executions in Iran, we understand that the Islamic regime is by its nature incapable of a humane approach to children’s issues as well as any other of our problematic issues of today’s Iran. The truth is that this regime is the main reason and cause of these problems.

Children issue in Iran, child executions, like many other issues are matters of life and death, and should be addressed as such. We can not leave this to the aftermath of coming political revolution. Pressure on the Islamic regime to stop child executions needs to be intensified. We need to support, motivate, and intensify activities of international foundations, and draw the attention of the general public of the world to this urgent matter, as well as reflecting, and promoting the activities of those selfless brave women and men struggling in Iran to make difference. Our case against the Islamic regime must be heard. Our potentials must be mobilized. The world must act against this barbarism now.

(1) Qesas is defined as “a punishment where the criminal’s sentence must be equivalent to their crime.” In the West this is commonly referred to as “an eye for an eye.” Definition taken from Z Arshadi, Islamic Republic of Iran and Penal Codes
(2) Hadd is defined as “a punishment in which its form, extent and character is defined in sharia’ laws” (article 13). Definition taken from Z Arshadi, Islamic Republic of Iran and Penal Codes
(3) Shari’a law is “the legal framework within which the public and private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Islamic principles of jurisprudence and for Muslims living outside the domain. Sharia deals with many aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business, contracts, family, sexuality, hygiene, and social issues.” Definition taken from

Links to organizations that work against child execution in Iran:
International Committee Against Executions
Stop Child Executions

Stories of child offenders

Sina Paymard was taken to the execution pole 2 days before his 18th birthday. While he was standing he was standing with a rope around his neck, he was asked, “What is your last wish?” He answered: “I would like to play some flute.” The murder victim’s relatives, who were present to witness the execution, became so emotionally affected after listening to his flute play that they changed their mind and agreed to accept blood money instead of revenge (it’s legal according to IR laws). Sina Paymard is still living in the city of Karaj (a suburb of Tehran) under the order of execution.

Delara Darabi, 22, was executed for a killing that she was alleged to have committed when she was 17 years old. The execution was carried out at Rasht Central Prison despite a two-month stay of execution in the case issued by the head of the Judiciary. More about Delara’s story appears here:
Human Rights Watch
Save Delara


International Standards:
Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
States Parties shall ensure that:

(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;

(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;

(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;

(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.

The exclusion of child offenders from the death penalty under general international law
Index Number: ACT 50/004/2003
Date Published: 17 July 2003
obtained from Amnesty International
In October 2002 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held that “a norm of international customary law has emerged prohibiting the execution of offenders under the age of 18 years at the time of their crime” and that “this rule has been recognized as being of a sufficiently indelible nature to now constitute a norm of jus cogens”. This paper examines the evidence supporting the conclusion that the use of the death penalty against child offenders (people convicted of crimes committed under the age of 18) is prohibited under customary international law and as a peremptory norm of general international law (jus cogens).\n\n\n



  1. You have to know that child -or any age- execution in Iran is not just a matter of choice state has and just can leave it and do something else. They do it to survive as Islamic Republic of Iran. As very correct writing above explains it is their nature from time 30 years ago came about to exist as state confronting Iranian Revolution 1979. They are doing that just because of their nature and all western governments know it better that anyone else. Being afraid what would be alternative for such Barbaric state let them go for it like when in first place brought them on political scene to counter attack Iran Revolution in 1979. Right now the same thing is up and running in much faster pace just because again revolution is on their door knocking. Stopping any execution including child execution is stuck with regime being there or not. Gesas in its very nature is from period when there was no judiciary system in society in any meaing. Just letting close relatives decide instead of judiciary system is under question of modern world. We can not in any meaning do not look at that and just be against capital punishment and propogate about that. Here victims’ family to go with extreme as execution order should be seen as victim for such cruelty law as Qesas. In Iran we had judiciary system before IRI. People are used with such meaning of their society and when in all of sudden IRI came about the same way Taleban did in Afghanistan, are shocked and can not digest that. IRI could not survive if there were not support and provide means for them to exist. Political arena western states are for, has made this situation in our world. Capitalist system is in its end and can not come up with better alternative that Taleban and IRI. Howere they come up and show some differences but it is just make up scene. We know Filipina girls in Kuwait who were brought there as servant were used as sexual slave and Kuwait was called as democracy by western state. And when Sadam attack Kuwait these Filipinas were happy that they at last could be free. It shows how double standard being used for representing themselves only civilized power in our world. Right now Taleban and once CIA member “Osama Ben Ladan” are getting money through opium smuggling in Afghnistan which enable them to continue fighing and Mr. Obama says destroying 90% world smuggling opium in Afghanistan is not economical for Afghani people.
    So, we should see in what a situation we are talking about. We can not stop Child Execution totally in Iran without toppling IRI.

  2. […] Child executions […]

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