According to Amnesty International, as reported in the Washington Post today, there are 71 child criminals on death row in Iran.
In a troubling report on the execution of minors in Iran, Amnesty International said yesterday that at least 71 child offenders are on death row and more than 24 have been executed since 1990, more than in any other country.
WaPo uses the word "troubling" - executing children is "troubling."
Defendants younger than 18 are being hanged after swift decisions and hurried procedures, said the report, "Iran: The Last Executioner of Children." Of the 24 child offenders reported executed, 11 were still younger than 18 at the time of their deaths.
The 41-page report lists names and details of each known case but says the actual number of executions was higher because many death penalty cases in Iran go unreported. In the last three years, only three other countries used the death penalty against minors: China executed one child offender in 2004, Sudan executed two in 2005 and Pakistan executed one in 2006.
All members in good standing at the UN.
Under Iranian law, capital offenses include adultery by married people, incest, rape, four convictions of an unmarried person for fornication, three convictions for drinking alcohol, or four convictions for homosexual acts among men.
The most prominent capital case is that of Atefeh Rajabi , who was hanged on Aug. 15, 2004, in the town of Neka, in northern Mazandaran province. She was 16 and had been sentenced to death for a fourth conviction of crimes against chastity. Her crimes included being alone in a car with a boy and being caught at a cafe without a chaperon[e]. Officials claimed she was 22, but her birth certificate listed 1988 as her year of birth. She was arrested repeatedly as a child by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the first time when she was 13. [emphases added]
Amnesty International appealed for Iran to stop executing children and those who committed their crimes before they turned 18, in a report published Wednesday.
The London-based human rights group said that 71 children, indicted for a variety of offences, were awaiting the death penalty in Iran, and added that Iran had executed the most minors of any country in the world since 1990.
In that time 11 children were executed while they were still legally minors, and a further 13 were killed after remaining on death row until they had reached their 18th birthday before being hanged, Amnesty said.
"Iran stands virtually alone as a country in which child offenders -- persons under 18 at the time of the crime of which they were convicted -- are put to death," Malcolm Smart, the director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme, said in a statement. [emphases added]
So what about the New York Times? That newspaper abhors the death penalty. Today's article on Iran extols "The Cherries of Persia", written by their distinguished journalist covering the Iran beat. Elaine Sciolino wries:
What a scoop!
I had been invited to lunch at the home of Ayatollah Majdeddin Mahallati, a senior Shiite cleric whose family had once wielded extraordinary power and influence.
The drink I chose — a sour cherry confection — had the taste of summer. Bitingly tart and soothingly sweet rather than sour, it blocked out the noise and heat and rules of the Islamic Republic just outside the doors of the ayatollah’s house.
The sour cherry season in Iran is short — only about three weeks from mid-June to early July. The harvest triggers a mad rush to preserve the fruit’s electric vibrancy. Sour cherries boiled in sugar and water with just a hint of vanilla produce a rich syrup called sharbat-e albalu. It is stored in bottles to be mixed with water and masses of ice to drink on special occasions throughout the year.
On the day of our lunch, the learned ayatollah looked at the glowing liquid and recited from memory a poem of Iran’s greatest epic poet, Abolqasem Ferdowsi: “Two things are my favorite, a young companion and an old wine. The young companion takes away all your sorrows, the old wine gives richness to your life.”
The ayatollah said he was speaking only metaphorically, of course. Shiraz grapes once produced the finest wine in Iran. But we were in the Islamic Republic, which bans all alcohol. Shiraz also produces some of Iran’s best sour cherries. So, blissfully, we sipped on sour cherries instead.