Amnesty: Iran secretly executes two minor boys over rape

Teenage cousins kept in dark about death sentences and flogged before executions, rights group says.

    Iran is the top executioner of children in the world, according to Amnesty International [File: Hamideh Shafieeha/Mehr News Agency/AP]
    Iran is the top executioner of children in the world, according to Amnesty International [File: Hamideh Shafieeha/Mehr News Agency/AP]

    Iran secretly executed two boys under the age of 18 over multiple charges of rape, Amnesty International reported as it condemned the country's "utter disdain for international law and childrens' rights".

    Cousins Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat, who were arrested at the age of 15 and convicted following an "unfair trial", were executed on Thursday in the southern city of Shiraz, according to the UK-based rights group.

    The teenagers had lash marks on their bodies, showing signs they had been flogged before the executions, Amnesty said on Monday. 

    "The Iranian authorities have once again proved that they are sickeningly prepared to put children to death, in flagrant disregard of international law," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director, in a statement. 

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    "It seems they cruelly kept these two boys in the dark about their death sentences for two years, flogged them in the final moments of their lives, and then carried out their executions in secret," he added.

    Since 2017, the pair had been kept in a juvenile correction centre and were transferred to the Adelabad prison in Shiraz a day before the execution.

    Their families were granted a visit on Wednesday, but not informed about the death penalty, Amnesty said. 

    Top executioner for children

    Iran is the second-most prolific executioner in the world after China, where thousands are believed to be put to death annually. 

    It is also the top executioner of children in the world, figures by Amnesty show. 

    Between 1990 and 2018, Amnesty recorded the executions of 97 prisoners who were convicted as minors.

    At least 253 people, including seven under the age of 18 at the time of the crime, were executed in the country last year, according to Amnesty's annual report, published this month.

    Meanwhile, more than 90 minors remained on death row, the rights group documented. 

    "We have identified a trend in which Iran's authorities are carrying out executions of juvenile offenders in secret and without giving advance notice to the families, seemingly in a deliberate attempt to avoid global outrage," said Luther. 

    "This makes it all the more important for influential international actors such as the European Union to increase their diplomatic and public interventions to pressure Iran to end the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders."

    Iran's executions come after outrage over the beheadings of 37 men, most of whom were from the Shia-Muslim minority sect, in Saudi Arabia over "terrorism"-related crimes. 

    The UN human rights chief said at least three of those killed were minors at the time of their sentencing. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News