FEATURED POST

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Image
The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Iran's renewed death sentences for juvenile offenders show 'contempt' for children's rights

A young prisoner charged with rape was hanged in public in Iran in Nov. 2015
A young prisoner charged with rape was hanged in public in Iran in Nov. 2015
Iran cemented its shameful status as the world's top official executioner of juvenile offenders after two young men were re-sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were under 18 years old, Amnesty International said today.

Sajad Sanjari and Hamid Ahmadi, who had been granted retrials because of their young age when the crimes occurred, will face execution after trial courts presiding over their separate cases concluded they had reached "mental maturity" at the time of the crime.

"This ruling lays bare the Iranian authorities' contempt for the human rights of children, coupled with their appetite for the death penalty - a toxic combination that leaves numerous juvenile offenders facing execution," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"Iran's continued use of the death penalty against persons convicted of crimes committed while they were under 18 years of age is cruel, inhumane and blatantly unlawful. The death sentences of both these men, and all other juvenile offenders on death row in Iran, must be commuted immediately."

A provision on juvenile sentencing in Iran's 2013 Penal Code allows judges to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment if they decide that the juvenile offender did not comprehend the nature of the crime or its consequences, or that his or her "mental growth and maturity" are in doubt.

However, the courts in these cases dashed the hopes of both defendants - and of human rights advocates who have long called for the abolition of the death penalty against juvenile offenders - by reissuing the 2 death sentences with little explanation.

"The re-sentencing to death of Sajad Sanjari and Hamid Ahmadi makes a mockery of a fundamentally flawed provision that gives judges the discretion to impose the death penalty for crimes committed by minors. No such discretion must ever be given under any circumstances. The assessment of their mental state years after the crime is an inherently defective way of determining criminal responsibility," said Said Boumedouha.

"These retrial proceedings have been hailed as juvenile justice advances but increasingly we are seeing them turning into a cruel show that ends with juvenile offenders once again finding themselves on death row."

Sajad Sanjari, now aged 20, was first sentenced to death in January 2012 after being convicted of murder for fatally stabbing a man in Kermanshah Province. He was 15 years old at the time of the crime.

Hamid Ahmadi, 24, was first sentenced to death in August 2009 in connection with the fatal stabbing of a young man during a fight between 5 boys in northern Gilan Province. He was 17 years old at the time.

Iran is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which prohibit the imposition of the death penalty against persons who were below 18 years of age at the time of the crime absolutely, allowing for no exceptions. However, Iran continues to impose the death penalty against juvenile offenders and frequently defer the execution until after they pass the age of 18.

"These cases highlight the continuing and urgent need for laws that will prohibit the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders, once and for all," said Said Boumedouha.

"Until such time, juvenile offenders remain at risk of the death penalty even when their applications for retrial are granted."

Iran tops the grim, global table of executioners of juvenile offenders. In 2015 at least 4 juvenile offenders are believed to have been executed. They included Javad Saberi, hanged on 15 April, Vazir Amroddin, hanged in June/July, Samad Zahabi, hanged on 5 October, and Fatemeh Salbehi, hanged on 13 October.

"It is absolutely shocking that in the months and weeks leading to the review session before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Iranian authorities shamelessly continue to sentence juvenile offenders to death and schedule and carry out their executions," said Said Boumedouha.

Iran is scheduled to be reviewed by the Committee on 11 and 12 January. The Committee has already expressed deep concerns about the use of death penalty against juvenile offenders and asked Iran to provide information on the outcome and progress of the cases of juvenile offenders undergoing re-trial.

Source: Amnesty International USA, December 9, 2015

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Nevada law says chief medical officer must advise on executions despite ethical clash

Iran: Prisoners Hanged in Public While Crowd Watched

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

20 Minutes to Death: Record of the Last Execution in France

Poorly executed - Indiana inmate challenges state's lethal cocktail change

Arkansas death-row inmate tries to drop appeal blocking execution; request denied

Russian who joined ISIS in Iraq sentenced to hanging

"I cannot execute convicted murderers," Tanzania's president declares

Iran: More Public Executions, Prisoner Hanged While Crowd Watched

Patrick Henry, French child murderer in famous case, to be released