conducting executions, with the last case taking place in March 2021 where a daughter carried
out her mother’s execution. 7
This process effectively deprives the child of their right to seek pardon or commutation from the
State.8 There are a number institutions that can intervene to mediate cases of children sentenced
with qisas, notably in order to commute qisas into diya sentences. These institutions include a
reconciliation commission, a working group tasked to support mediation with the victim’s next
of kin, conflict resolution council branches and the Women and Children and Protection Office
of the judiciary. 9 There is no readily available information that would indicate the number of
cases received, reviewed and adjudicated by these institutions.
Additionally, Article 91 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code allows judges to issue alternative
sentences in circumstances where the juveniles “do not realize the nature of the crime committed
or its prohibition, or if there is uncertainty about their full mental development, according to their
age”.10 The Article further adds that “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”.11 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”.12 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”.13
The prohibition of imposing the death penalty on children is widely considered to be jus cogens
under international law and represents a violation of Articles 6(5) of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights and 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Human
Rights Committee has explicitly stipulated that the death penalty cannot be imposed if it cannot
be proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused was older than 18 years old at the time of
the offence.14 Executions of child offenders continue to be performed in the Islamic Republic of
7

https://iranhr.net/en/articles/4668/
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
9
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
10
Islamic Penal Code (2013), English translation, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, https://iranhrdc.org/englishtranslation-of-books-i-ii-of-the-new-islamic-penal-code/
11
See Islamic Penal Code (2013), English translation, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, https://iranhrdc.org/englishtranslation-of-books-i-ii-of-the-new-islamic-penal-code/.
12
See OHCHR News, www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21547&LangID=E
13
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
14
UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment no.36, Article 6 (Right to life), 3 September 2019, CCPR/C/GC/35,
available at https://www.refworld.org/docid/5e5e75e04.html
8

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