Iran official says against execution of minors over drugs

11th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A senior Iranian official said Friday that he was against executions of minors over drug trafficking, as capital punishment has not proven itself to be effective in preventing such crime.

"We have two levels of death penalty, one which is applied to narcotics traffickers which I am totally against," said Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary general of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, responding to a question on juvenile executions.

He estimated that narcotics-related executions accounted for 74 percent of such capital punishment carried out in Iran.

But there was no proof that it is "very effective in preventing trafficking", he added.

"So we're proposing a bill to change that -- we take away death penalty for drug trafficking crimes. This is by itself a very good step," he told journalists in Geneva.

Rights campaigners have repeatedly called on Iran to heed its commitment to a UN convention on children's rights which requires signatories to spare those found guilty of committing crimes as minors from the death penalty.

According to London-based rights group Amnesty International, there are currently more than 130 juvenile offenders on death row in Iran.

The judiciary has drawn up a bill that aims to make it difficult for the courts to sentence minors to death in Iran where the age of legal responsibility is nine for girls and 15 for boys but it has not yet been written into law.

Crimes including murder, drug trafficking and rape are punishable by death under the Sharia-based law practised in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

© 2010 AFP

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