Human Rights Continue to be Denied in Iran

Human Rights and Democracy for Iran, a project of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) recently published a report titled “Iran: It’s Time to Scrap Outdated Laws Exposing Children to Torture.” The report described in detail Iran’s clear violations of the 1991 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which Iran signed and ratified along with nine other countries including the United States and Britain. Twenty four years later, Iran appears to lack the political will to ensure a child’s dignity and well-being are protected by the state rather than endangered by its laws as it has consistently violated what the convention requires them to do.

The CRC deals with child-specific needs and rights, and requires that the participating state act in the best interest of the child. The CRC views the child as an individual with rights rather than a possession or commodity, whose family owns them, and while CRC obligates states to allow parents to exercise their parental responsibilities whether that be discipline or caring for the child, CRC highlights that the child has the right to express his or her own opinion and to have those opinions heard and acted upon when appropriate. CRC is supposed to ensure the child has the right to be protected from abuse or exploitation along with other personal rights, and it requires that the child have legal representation when need be. By signing the CRC, signatories commit themselves to respect international norms in regards to the treatment of children, and to improve the state’s laws and practices to comply with CRC’s stipulation. However, over the past two decades Iran has failed to do just that.

Salar Shadizadi was sentenced to death at age 15 and is awaiting execution | Iran Human Rights

When Iran ratified the convention they entered a reservation stipulating that they reserve the right not to apply any provisions that they find incompatible with either Islamic law or their own law, thus making almost all of CRC moot. For the past twenty plus years Iran has stood in clear violation of CRC since their reservation basically allows the government to disregard all of the requirements and commitments they are obliged to in the CRC. Iran’s reservation allows for state sanctioned death sentences and corporal punishment for child-offenders.

Regardless of its reservation to the CRC, Iran also violates the convention in other ways. In Iran, children do not receive legal representation, the government puts the child in harm’s way, denying their rights and even torturing them for wrong doings. Flogging, wrongful imprisonment and executions of child-offenders continue to be state sanctioned. An obvious problem here is that there is a large gap between the CRC and Iran’s laws. One of these gaps is that Iran’s penal and criminal codes, and the age at which a child can be punished by the state, stand in stark contrast to that of the CRC’s. An Iranian child is of criminal responsibility at the age of fifteen lunar years and nine lunar years for boys and girls respectively. More disturbingly, there is no age discrimination in cases of executions for crimes committed as a minor, which is condoned by the regime. Amnesty International reported that since January 2015 at least 700 people have been executed in Iran and the number is only growing. Iran has consistently been ranked number one on international lists for the number of executions per capita. ABF reported that since the year 200, more than 100 people may have been executed for crimes committed as a juvenile, and in 2014 alone fifteen child-offenders were executed.

Aside from Iran’s atrocious record on human rights and its archaic judicial system, Iran’s continued violations of the CRC are just one example of how Iran fails to follow any sort of international negotiation of the utmost importance, even with its own name on the document. Iran is deceptive and mistrustful; the regime has no interest in advancing, or ensuring, the rights of its people. If Iran will not follow an internationally agreed upon document that serves to protect its children, how can we expect the regime to not continue its nefarious activity when it comes to a nuclear deal? The Iranian regime is a ruthless one and they do not seek or intend to guarantee and safeguard justice for its people. The Iranian regime‘s primary concern is how to advance itself as a bully and imperial power in the region. It is also extremely concerning how Iran does not even follow the CRC, which is not political and only serves to benefit its citizens, and now we expect Iran to follow JCPOA. Iran is notorious for violating internationally agreed upon doctrines, conventions, treaties, etc. We should all be concerned that a country which condones indiscriminate executions of minors and child-offenders now has the potential capability for such a deadly weapon.

The west needs to take a serious look at Iran’s human rights records and really think about why they are letting such a violent regime to have almost unfettered access to nuclear sites and an influx of billions of dollars, which we all know will go towards supporting terrorism. Recognition of Iran’s nuclear aims is not good for its continued violation of human rights and oppression of its people.