DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, (AP) -Iran”s executions of two teenagers last week violated international law, a New York-based human rights group has said.
Human Rights Watch condemned the July 19 public hangings of the two, aged 18 and 16, after they were found guilty of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy more than a year earlier. The older convict was 17 at the time of the offense.
The hanging brought condemnation from many foreign governments, including the United States.
"Death is an inhumane punishment, particularly for someone under 18 at the time of his crimes," Hadi Ghaemi, Iran researcher for the rights group, said in a statement issued Wednesday. "All but a handful of countries forbid such executions. Iran should as well."
Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and other rights advocates in Iran also protested the hangings, which took place in the northeastern city of Mashhad. Iran”s Supreme Court upheld the verdict and allowed the execution.
In letters to Iran”s president and the head of the country”s judiciary, the rights group asked Iran to refrain from "inhumane" executions, especially of minors.
Besides Iran, only China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and the United States are known to have put juvenile offenders to death in the past five years, Human Rights Watch said.
Before the two youths were executed, each received 228 lashes for theft, disturbing public order and consuming alcohol.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibit imposing the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18, the rights group said. Iran has ratified both treaties.
Iran is thought to have executed at least four other juvenile offenders in 2004, and at least 30 juvenile offenders are on the country”s death row.