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Juvenile Offender Hossein Shahbazi at Risk of Execution Despite Postponement

27 May 23
Juvenile Offender Hossein Shahbazi at Risk of Execution Despite Postponement

Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); May 27, 2023: The execution of juvenile offender, Hossein Shahbazi which was scheduled to take place tomorrow, has been temporarily postponed. Sentenced to qisas(retribution-in-kind) for an alleged murder that took place when he was 17 years old, his execution is still at implementation enforcement, placing him at risk.

Iran Human Rights demands his sentence be overturned and calls on the international community, countries with diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic in particular, to do everything in their power to save Hossein Shahbazi and other juvenile offenders on death row from death.

Director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “Hossein Shahbazi is still at risk of execution and will remain at risk until his sentence his overturned. The international community can save juvenile offenders on death row with sustained efforts and pressure on the Islamic Republic."

According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, Hossein Shahbazi's family were informed that his execution was due to take place on 28 May, which has now been postponed.

One of his relatives told Iran Human Rights: “His execution was due to take place on Sunday which they now say has been postponed.” However, the sentence has not been overturned and only temporarily postponed.

Hossein Shahbazi was 17 years old at the time of allegedly committing the murder during a mass fight in 2018.

A source previously told Iran Human Rights that Hossein was tortured to make self-incriminating confessions during the interrogation phase. “Due to the family’s financial problems, they couldn’t afford to get Hossein a lawyer,” they said. Hossein had also been sent to the legal medical examiner to assess his mental maturity days after arrest and was found to have reach maturity and fully developed.

Hossein was tranferred for execution on at least two other occasions, in June and December 2021.

It is important to note that on 24 November 2021, juvenile offender Arman Abdolali was abruptly executed despite officials telling his family that his execution had been postponed.

According to Article 91 of the new Islamic Penal Code, passed in 2013, “In the cases of offences punishable by hadd or qisas, if mature people under eighteen years do not realise the nature of the crime committed or its prohibition, or if there is uncertainty about their full mental development, according to their age, they shall be sentenced to the punishments prescribed in this chapter.” The note to the Article gives judges the power to determine the defendant's mental capacity: “The court may ask the opinion of forensic medicine or resort to any other method that it sees appropriate in order to establish the full mental development.”

Iran is one of the few countries in the world that still carries out the death penalty for juvenile offenders. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the Islamic Republic is a signatory to, prohibits the issuance and implementation of the death penalty for crimes committed by an individual below 18 years of age. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Islamic Republic is also a signatory to, explicitly states that “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” However, the new Islamic Penal Code adopted in 2013 explicitly defines the “age of criminal responsibility” for children as the age of maturity under Sharia law, meaning that girls over 9 lunar years of age and boys over 15 lunar years of age are eligible for execution if convicted of “crimes against God” (such as apostasy) or “retribution crimes”(such as murder).