On November 24, Iranian prisoner Arman Abdolali was executed despite an international campaign to save his life as he was still a minor at the time of his arrest. In 2013, Abdolali was 17 years old when he received the death sentence for the charge of murdering his girlfriend. Her body has never been found, and while he initially confessed to the crime, he later retracted his confession.
According to the European Union, death sentences given to people for crimes committed while they were below the age of 18 are in violation of international laws under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
A spokesperson from the European Union said, “It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent to crime and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity. The European Union continues to work for the universal abolition of the death penalty.”
Currently, 85 people are currently waiting on Iran’s death row for crimes that they supposedly committed as minors. Abdolali is the second juvenile offender who has been sent to the gallows so far this year. Over the last two months, he was transferred to solitary confinement a total of six times ahead of his scheduled execution, but each of the five previous times, proceedings were postponed at the last minute.
UN Human Rights Office spokesperson, Liz Throssell spoke out in regards to Abdolali’s execution, saying that it is shocking that his hanging took place despite many international parties trying to intervene on many occasions. She reiterated that under international human rights laws, the execution of an offender who was underage at the time of their crimes is categorically prohibited.
She said, “We have serious concerns that his case follows the pattern of child offenders being convicted after a flawed trial and on the basis of forced confessions.”
UN experts also spoke out, highlighting that Abdolali’s case is ‘emblematic of the deep flaws of the juvenile justice system in the Islamic Republic of Iran’. They called on the Iranian Government to reform their system ‘as a matter of priority’ and fully abolish the death penalty in Iran, especially for juvenile offenders.
Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued a statement following the news of Abdolali’s execution on Wednesday.
She highlighted her shock after learning that he was hanged for a crime he was alleged to have committed when he was still a minor and stated that the Federal Government rejects the death penalty under all circumstances because of its nature as an inhumane form of punishment.
Kofler said, “Iran has ratified both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Both prohibit the execution of minors and people who are minors at the time of the crime. There are also serious doubts as to whether due process standards were complied with in the proceedings against Arman Abdolali.”