The Iranian authorities have flogged and secretly executed two boys under the age of 18 over multiple charges of rape, Amnesty International reported on Monday, condemning the country’s “utter disdain for international law and childrens’ rights”.
Cousins Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat, who were arrested at the age of 15 and convicted following an “unfair trial”, were executed on Thursday, 25 April, in the southern city of Shiraz, according to the UK-based rights group.
According to Amnesty International, the teenagers were unaware that they had been sentenced to death until shortly before their executions and had lash marks on their bodies, showing signs they had been flogged before the executions.
Amnesty has learned that Iranian regime authorities flogged the two boys in the final moments of their lives and then carried out their executions in secret.
Their families and lawyers were not informed about the executions in advance and were shocked to learn of the news.
“The Iranian authorities have once again proved that they are sickeningly prepared to put children to death, in flagrant disregard of international law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, in a statement.
“It seems they cruelly kept these two boys in the dark about their death sentences for two years, flogged them in the final moments of their lives, and then carried out their executions in secret,” he added.
“The use of the death penalty against people who were under 18 at the time of the crime is strictly prohibited under international human rights law and is a flagrant assault on children’s rights…”
Since 2017, the pair had been kept in a juvenile correction centre and was transferred to the Adelabad prison in Shiraz a day before the execution.
Their families were granted a visit on Wednesday, but not informed about the death penalty, Amnesty said.
The next day, on April 25, the families suddenly received a call from Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization, a state forensic institute, informing them of the executions and asking them to collect the bodies.
The legal proceedings leading to the two boys’ conviction and sentence were unfair and flagrantly violated the principles of juvenile justice. Following their arrests, they were held for two months in a police detention center, where they said they were beaten. They also had no access to a lawyer during the investigation process, according to AI.
Amnesty states that the practice of subjecting children to police questioning in the absence of a guardian or lawyer violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Top executioner for children
Amnesty International says the Iranian regime remains the world’s leading executioner of juveniles and is constantly condemned for its human rights violations.
As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to treat anyone under the age of 18 as a juvenile and ensure that they are never subjected to the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Between 1990 and 2018, Amnesty recorded the executions of 97 prisoners who were convicted as minors.
At least 253 people, including seven under the age of 18 at the time of the crime, were executed in the country last year, according to Amnesty’s annual report, published this month.
Meanwhile, more than 90 minors remained on death row, the rights group documented.
“We have identified a trend in which Iran’s authorities are carrying out executions of juvenile offenders in secret and without giving advance notice to the families, seemingly in a deliberate attempt to avoid global outrage,” said Luther.
“This makes it all the more important for influential international actors such as the European Union to increase their diplomatic and public interventions to pressure Iran to end the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders.”