Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
A/HRC/40/67 para 75 (b)
Full recommendation:
Pending implementation of the aforementioned recommendations, and without prejudice to the
binding obligation enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to not sentence children to death and to not execute child
offenders, the Special Rapporteur recommends that the judiciary: (b) Ensure that any article 91
assessment is conducted on the prima facie basis that there is uncertainty about the mental
development of the child, and as such a death sentence cannot be imposed. Ensure that the
burden of proof is always on the prosecution to establish complete certainty about the full mental
development of the child, in line with article 91. Furthermore, ensure that the child is afforded
the benefit of the doubt if the assessment is not undertaken immediately after the crime.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
A. Ensure that any Article 91 assessment is conducted prima facie basis that there is
uncertainty about the mental development of the child, and as such death penalty
sentence cannot be imposed
Article 91 of the Islamic Penal Code, revised in 2013, allows judges to pronounce alternative
sentences in circumstances where the juveniles “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”.2 The Article further adds that “the court may ask for the opinion of forensic medicine or
resort to any other method that it sees appropriate in order to establish the full mental
development [of the accused]”. In 2017, a number of UN special procedure mandate holders
considered the 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”.3 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”.4 The Legal

1

CCPR.6.5.S.1; CRC.6.1.S.2; CRC.37.4.S.1; CCPR.6.5.P.1; CRC.37.4.P.1; CCPR.6.5.O.1; CCPR.6.5.O.2; CRC.37.4.O.2
Article 91, Islamic Penal Code (2013), English translation, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center,
https://iranhrdc.org/english-translation-of-books-i-ii-of-the-new-islamic-penal-code/
3
See OHCHR News, www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21547&LangID=E
4
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, January 2019,
https://undocs.org/Home/Mobile?FinalSymbol=A%2FHRC%2F40%2F67&Language=E&DeviceType=Desktop
2

Select target paragraph3