Iran: Revoke Death Sentences for Juvenile Offenders
Human Rights Watch

Iran should immediately halt the planned executions of three men under charges of male homosexual conduct allegedly committed when they were children, Human Rights Watch said today.

Mehdi P., from Tabriz; Moshen G., from Shiraz; and Nemat Safavi, from Ardebil, were accused in separate cases of committing homosexual acts when they were under age 18.  No date has been set for their execution yet, but the lawyer representing two of the men fears that it could happen any day.

"Killing people for what they did as children is wrong and repellent, and killing them for alleged homosexual conduct is just as wrong and repellent," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The Iranian government has flouted its most basic human rights obligations in allowing these cruel death sentences."

Mehdi P. and Moshen G. denied the charges, and no witnesses testified against them. Safavi was arrested at the age of 16 in 2006, and tried by a court in Ardebil, where he is being held.

The courts sentenced all three to death despite the requirement in Iran's shari'a-based criminal code that sexual offenses require a confession repeated four times or the testimony of four male witnesses.  However, the code allows judges to use their "knowledge" in determining guilt where no such evidence is available, a dangerously elastic provision. Judges
relied on such discretionary "know... >>>

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