verdict. Judges have been assessing children and concluding that they were mentally developed
without requesting an expert opinion at all.7
In January 2019, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic
of Iran reported cases where judges asked questions “focused on whether the child knew it was
wrong to kill” or concluded that the child was “mentally developed” as long as there was no
evidence of mental health issues. The Special Rapporteur reported cases where “judges have also
used measures such as assessing whether the defendant has grown body hair to confirm mental
development”. Some assessments done by the Legal Medicine Organization are performed long
after the alleged offence was committed. 8
In 2017, a number of special procedure mandate holders described ongoing executions of child
offenders in the Islamic Republic of Iran as “conclusive proof of the failure of the 2013
amendments to stop the execution of individuals sentenced to death as children”.9 In 2019, the
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran found that the
aforementioned assessment of the mental development of the accused at the time of the offence
was “arbitrary and inconsistent, and at the sole discretion of the judge, who can choose whether
to seek medical advice or not”.10
In January 2020, the UN Secretary General reiterated that “United Nations human rights
mechanisms have highlighted significant deficiencies with article 91 of the Penal Code and its
application.” He also expressed concerns about “the discretion left to judges in applying article
91, including whether to request a forensic specialist assessment of the maturity of the accused
and when to do so, sometimes requesting it years after the alleged offence, and to use any other
method deemed appropriate to assess the mental development of the accused.” The UN Secretary
General also highlighted the absence of definition on what “constitutes the non-realization of the
nature of the crime, nor does it define or provide the criteria for assessing “mental development”,
which increases the risk of arbitrary decision-making”.11
The Legal Medicine Organization continues to assess child offenders as ‘mentally developed’ at
the time of the alleged offence,12 in some cases for crimes that are sentenced with the death
penalty. In 2019, 4 individuals who reportedly committed crimes when they were under 18 years

7

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, January 2019,
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G19/021/61/PDF/G1902161.pdf?OpenElement
8
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, January 2019,
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G19/021/61/PDF/G1902161.pdf?OpenElement
9
See OHCHR News, www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21547&LangID=E
10
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, January 2019,
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G19/021/61/PDF/G1902161.pdf?OpenElement
11
Report of the UN Secretary General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, January 2020,
https://undocs.org/Home/Mobile?FinalSymbol=A%2FHRC%2F43%2F20&Language=E&DeviceType=Desktop
12
Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/04/iran-execution-of-young-man-vengeful-and-cruel/

2

Select target paragraph3