Hanging of Juveniles Under the Age of 18 in Iran / Nasrin Sotoudeh
Thursday 11 December 2008, by
feministschool: Nasrin Sotoudeh is a well known activist in women’s movement and a brave and respected lawyer for most of the women’s movement activists. Ms Sotoudeh started off as a journalist and an expert advisor in International Human Rights and became an active member of Campaign for One million Signatures and hence continuing her activities in Human Rights for Children and in particular against the hanging of children under the age of 18.
In order to analyse the children’s situation in the society one has to use different methods but because the law and the effects it has on social and cultural issues in public domain, it becomes more important as a point of reference.
In the analysis if we look at the general laws, it underlines the tradition and that which is effectively using the name of religion as well as those burdens of patriarchal tradition and lack of leniency on juveniles actually negates the rights of children.
This article’s intention is to express the children’s Right to leave and in conclusion to study the punishment of hanging for juveniles.
My generation spent its childhood in an era where people would not be hanged for what they did when they were young.
We knew that no one at our age will be punished by the hanging judge or any other method of terrifying punishment as we understood that they take our actions as childish and never take us serious enough to send us to the gallows.
The stance was the result of the parliament’s ratification of the law 80 years ago which at the time Modares the great religious authority was a member and also Iran at the time had joined the civil and political convention which according to resolution 5, article 6, perpetration for under 18 was not punishable by hanging.
Iran is still a member of that convention and also a member of the Children’s Right Convention and according to resolution 37 issuing a hanging as punishment for the perpetrators of under the 18 is prohibited. But the law in Iran after joining has been ratified contrary to the named convention. The irony of hanging of under the 18 in my country Iran is that the law on age of consent has changed 30 years ago and is as follows:
The current laws in Iran, age of 9 for Girls and age of 15 for Boys are eligible to receive a full penal code, same as adults. The age for receiving a full penal code by laws, is an age where the law puts adults on trial and when proven guilty they receive punishment, hence if a girl of 9 or a boy of 15 in fighting or their child play committing murder deserve to be punished by hanging.
This Law has many flows:
First- contains obscene amount of sexual discrimination. Hence the girls who are in their absolute childhood are treated like an adult and are held accountable whilst when it comes to being a witness the same girls is considered half of the same age as boys. It means that the law maker in Iran has presumed, women to reach adulthood at an early age but without the privileges and in the most insulting manner has halved their rights against boys.
At this juncture it has to be said that because of the laws in Iran in most cases women as witnesses is not accepted at all and if the court accepts women as witnesses then 2 women are equal to one man, for instance the law maker in certain cases requires the witness of 4 men in this case witnessing of 2 men and 4 women is accepted. Or in the case of blood money, if a car accident accurse and both parties are equally hurt the fine for the woman is half of what it would be for the man.
As in the science of the law, accountability is directly corresponding with right, hence however much accountability is given the same amount of right must be given too and in case of women they are heavily accountable but have not been given an equal right .
Second- Basically geographical and social conditions in Iran it is in such a way that no one can accept that a 9 year old girl or a 15 year old boy have fully reached a rational maturity.
Third- The law maker in Iran has assumed that children transform to adults over night and hence children whom up until age of 9 had no responsibility, exactly on their birthday and overnight they face adulthood and can stand trial. Overall in the penal law some preconditions have been made for children, for instance the past law in Iran between the ages of 6 to 12 one type of punishment was considered and 12 to 15 had the same punishment and 15 to 18 a different kind of punishment was considered, 18 and above would be considered as adult and would receive the same punishment as an adult as I live in Iran more than 120 juveniles are waiting to be hanged. Perhaps people like me because of witnessing such consistency as children demand leniency for such juveniles.
But there is one fundamental question which is that would the new generation of the children where the law punishes them as adults would ever part take in solidarity for other children’s rights in the future?