Iran sentences Kurdish juvenile Saman Naseem to death: a breach of international and domestic laws

Iran has been often criticised by several Western countries for its human rights abuses record. The latest uproar was caused when the Islamic republic sentenced to death Kurdish juvenile...

Iran has been often criticised by several Western countries for its human rights abuses record.
The latest uproar was caused when the Islamic republic sentenced to death Kurdish juvenile offender Saman Naseem, after charging him with “enmity against God” and “corruption on Earth”.
Saman was arrested when he was 17, following a gun battle in Sardasht between the Revolutionary Guards and Kurdish militant organisation PJAK, of which he is believed to be a member.
Authorities then sentenced him to death, prompting rights groups to pressure Iran to halt the execution and release Saman, arguing that the sentence was in breach of international laws.

saman-naseem-3In fact, Iran is signatory of international treaties that oblige the country to rule out death sentences for child offenders.
According to article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran signed in 1975, “Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.”
Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – which Iran adhered to in 1991 – also protects “persons below eighteen years of age” from capital punishment and life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
Saman’s death sentence is also in breach of domestic laws. As Amnesty International explained, although Iran’s Penal Code allows death penalty for juveniles, article 91 excludes it if the juvenile offender did not understand the nature of the crime or its consequences, or if there are doubts about their mental capacity.
Saman was due to be executed on 19th February, However, following international pressure, the government allegedly halted the execution.
But NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR) – which has been advocating for the release of Saman – believes the boy was hanged at the prison of Urmia in the north west of Iran, on either 19th or 20th February.
IHR said that Saman’s family was told by the authorities to collect Saman’s belongings.
Amnesty International, which has also been advocating for Saman’s release, has not yet confirmed the news of the alleged execution.
To this date, Saman’s parents do not know where their son is and whether he is still alive.

Human Rights

Ludovica Iaccino is an Italian journalist who currently lives in London, where she studied international journalism at London Metropolitan University and attended a human rights law course at City University. Ludovica currently works as a reporter for IBTimes UK. She also writes for iecoAfrica and her personal blog, which focuses on human right abuses and worldwide conflicts. Ludovica is the author of “The Silence of Nyamata”, a historical novel about the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
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