In a recent interview given to AFP, a senior Iranian official said that executing children who committed a crime does not represent a violation of human rights.
Majid Tafreshi’s statements were in response to criticism of the Iranian government by the United Nations.
Tafreshi is a member of the High Council of State Human Rights and expressed that the criticisms are not fair and that this use of the death penalty on minors under 18 is not a symbol of violation of Human Rights since it is not about five or six year old children, but about 17 year olds whose maturity was recognized by the court.
Michelle Bachelet, who serves as UN human rights chief, had criticized Iran last week for its widespread use of the death penalty and that “over 80 child offenders are on death row, with at least four at risk of imminent execution.”
Iran is the target of continuous criticism from the UN and human rights groups for carrying out these executions as they would violate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Iranian government ratified.
The Iranian official defended his government’s actions, arguing that they seek to minimize executions as much as possible and that no one congratulates them for this attempt.
Last year, at least four people accused of committing murder as minors were executed in Iran.
It should be noted that Iran is governed by the Islamic law of retribution or “an eye for an eye,” in which a murder is paid with death unless the victim’s family pardons the condemned.
Tafreshi said that they try to convince the families of the victims to forgive, but according to the Koran (holy book of Islam), as the family of the victim, it is a right to demand the death of the murderer but showing mercy is good.
He also explained that the Iranian Human Rights Council is constantly looking for money to offer compensation to the families of the victims and agree to forgiveness, but they encounter the difficulty that this process often takes many years.
According to the official, thanks to these efforts of the Iranian government, in 96% of the cases, they manage to get the victim’s family to pardon the convicted person.
He also added that judges make an effort to determine whether the minor actually committed an intentional homicide and whether he or she is mature enough to realize the nature of the crime, and that the Iranian penal code shows “leniency” towards minors who commit such acts.
Tafreshi went further and described as “propaganda” the accusations of other governments, the UN and human rights groups about the torture to which many Iranian detainees are exposed and who do not receive a fair trial.
And he did not stop there, attacking Western countries for violating human rights in the cases of French and UK arms sales to Gulf Arab monarchies and the very strong US sanctions on Iran.
It is worth noting that the UN position towards Iran is quite dual and contradictory, since in April the United Nations elected Iran to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, knowing about its violations of Iranian women’s rights.