Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); September 28, 2023: Ali Najafi was executed for murder charges in Khorramabad Central Prison. Arrested at 17, he was probably a juvenile offender. IHRNGO is working to verify his age.
According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, a probable juvenile offender was executed in Khorramabad Central Prison on 27 September. His identity has been established as 24-year-old Ali Najafi from Kouhdasht who was sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for the murder of his cousin (maternal uncle’s son).
Informed sources told Iran Human Rights: “Ali Najafi was 17 at the time of offence and 24 at the time of execution. Ali was taken back and forth to the gallows nine times; his maternal uncle insisted on his execution being carried out.”
“Ali Najafi’s dad had offered 10 billion tomans (around €2.25 million) as diya (blood money) to save his son but the uncle didn’t accept and he was executed. Ali had killed his cousin with a gun but had insisted in court that it was an accident,” the source added.
Iran Human Rights is continuing to work to confirm his age at the time of arrest.
At the time of writing, his execution has not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran.
Those charged with the umbrella term of “intentional murder” are sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) regardless of intent or circumstances due to a lack of grading in law. Once a defendant has been convicted, the victim’s family are required to choose between death as retribution, diya (blood money) or forgiveness.
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. According to Iran Human Rights' reports, at least 68 juvenile offenders were executed between 2010 and 2022 in Iran. International reports show that the Islamic Republic is responsible for 70% of juvenile executions in the last 33 years.
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).