Amnesty's urgent call to save Behnam Zare


SCE Campaign
by SCE Campaign


PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/009/2008 06 March 2008

Further Information on UA 230/07 (MDE 13/109/2007, 31 August 2007) and follow-up (MDE 13/032/2008, 05 February 2008) - Imminent execution/child offender

IRAN Behnam Zare` (m), child offender

On or around 11 February 2008 the Head of the Judiciary ordered a second attempt to negotiate payment of diyeh ("blood money") with the family of the man that Behnam Zare` was convicted of killing, according to a report carried by the BBC Persian
news service.

The order for the implementation of his sentence had been approved by the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, on 5 February, and Behnam Zare` was awaiting execution. The order to reopen negotiations, therefore, may have been given, at least in part, in response to campaigning by Amnesty International’s UA network and others. Negotiations over the payment of diyeh are managed by the Council for the Resolution of Differences, a body under the authority of the judiciary which is intended to solve a variety of legal disputes without recourse to the court system. There is no time limit for its decision. Behnam Zare’ remains at risk of execution.

Behnam Zare’ was convicted of a murder which reportedly took place on 21 April 2005, when he was 15 years old. He was found to have swung a knife during an argument with a man named Mehrdad, wounding him in the neck. Mehrdad later died in hospital. Behnam Zare`was detained on 13 November 2005; Branch 5 of Fars Criminal Court sentenced him to qesas (retribution) for premeditated murder. Under Article 206 (b) of Iran’s Criminal Code, murder is classed as premeditated “in cases where the murderer intentionally makes an action which is inherently lethal, even if [the murderer] does not intend to kill the person.” The case went to appeal before Branch 33 of the Supreme Court where the sentence was upheld, and it was then passed to the Office for Implementation of Sentences.

Iran is one of only six countries in the world in which child offenders – those convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18 – have been executed in the past four years. This is despite Iran’s obligations under international treaties to which it is a state party which prohibit the execution of child offenders. In the last four years Iran has executed more child offenders than in all those other countries combined.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language:

- expressing concern that Behnam Zare` is still at risk of execution for a crime committed when he was under 18;
- calling on the authorities to abide by the moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty called for
by the UN General Assembly in December 2007, and to commute the death sentence passed on Behnam Zare`;

- reminding the authorities that Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibit the use of the death penalty against people convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18.



Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency


His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
via website:

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 17 April 2008.

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Amnesty's urgent call to save Behnam Zare........and

by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

......does nothing to help the youth in greate britain. and why not? Any one interessted can compare the youth justice in england and in the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC of IRAN and evaluate her/his own results. However the honourable Iranian nation has chossen its own way. In the following one can read about the situation of youth justice in england:
Over 12,000 children are remanded into custody every year in Britain, yet half do not receive prison sentences. In a weekly five-part series Press TV reports on the growing trend for youth imprisonment in the UK.

The Youth Justice Board is responsible for overseeing the youth justice system in England and Wales. It works to prevent offending and re-offending by children and young people under the age of 18, and to ensure that their custody is safe, secure and addresses the causes of their offending. It is facing increasing criticism from many quarters for failing to address these needs.

In 2006 they spent a total of £245 million on the purchase of placements within the juvenile secure estate that is mostly made up of prison places in young offender institutes, and also four secure training centers and local authority secure children's homes that provide some places for extremely vulnerable offenders.

This was well over twice the amount allocated to fund community based youth justice programs and accounted for almost 70 percent of their entire budget for the year.

Elaine Weldon, a bail and remand officer for one of London's largest borough councils says: “Prison is monopolizing all the resources that could be used to fight the causes of crime and to prevent re-offending. Penal remands are at best ineffective and at worse damaging. They often hinder the education, accommodation and family work that stops re-offending.”

Instead of spending money and time trying to deal with the challenges facing young offenders within their own communities, they are being alienated, stigmatized and swept temporarily away out of sight and into prison, by the very establishment created to prevent this from happening.

John Podmore, former governor of Brixton Prison in South London, admits: “Remand is often used for sociological rather than penal reasons. This is wrong. Prisons should be providing services, but they should not be where people are sent because it is the only place where these services might possibly be accessed and delivered to them. Prisons should provide for the criminological needs of the criminal justice system, not for the sociological needs of the wider society.”

Unfortunately more prisons, like more motorways, do not reduce the number of users but simply accommodate ever-greater numbers. Selina Corkey from the Howard League for Penal Reform, the longest-standing penal reform charity in the UK, says: “The Home Office is ignoring the real problems facing the criminal justice system today as well as the practical resolutions to solve them. The problem is not insufficient accommodation but a systematic overuse of imprisonment that is often incorrect.”

The courts are now consigning young people to prison on the assumption that they may have committed comparatively petty crimes. In 2003, the Criminal Justice Act introduced a statutory presumption that each successive court appearance will result in a progressively more punitive outcome and is producing something of a snowball effect.

Nineteen-year-old Dwayne Tavard experienced this first hand when he was remanded into custody for three months last year. By the age of 13 Dwayne was smoking skunk (a highly potent form of cannabis) every day. By his own admission he was a drug addict, and when he left school he started experimenting with harder drugs.

“I smoke skunk everyday because it makes me forget that I have no GCSEs, no job and no future. But it makes me too lazy to do anything about it. You could say I should help myself, but it's not that easy, I need help - I can admit that - but where is it? It was not inside a prison cell believe me,” he said.

In May of last year he was arrested in Hammersmith, west London for a mugging that had taken place earlier that day. He had not committed the crime. Despite this, because of the new statutory presumption, he was incorrectly remanded into custody because of two previous court appearances for cannabis possession. There was no convincing evidence that he was guilty at his trial and he was acquitted.

In reality there was probably no convincing evidence that Dwayne was guilty before he was remanded into custody either. Many legal professionals have argued that remand should only follow the gathering and presentation of prima-facie evidence (evidence that is sufficient enough to prove a fact) so overwhelming that a guilty verdict is inevitable. Not because the defendant happens to have previous, perhaps minor, court appearances under his belt.

Rod Morgan, prior to becoming chair of the Youth Justice Board, argued: “the picture emerging is that more and more young people are getting mired deeper and deeper into the criminal justice system for doing less and less. At times there is incorrect and inappropriate sentencing.”

This is the result of almost twenty years of an increasingly punitive ethos within youth justice that has been reflected in the legislative changes made over the years.