EU condemns Tehran for execution of ‘forced-marriage’ female

Federica Mogherini speaks at a joint press conference with Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Javad Zarif. Tehran, July 2015. [European Union, 2015]

The European Union has condemned Iran for carrying out the death penalty on a woman whose crime was committed when she was just 17.

The criticism comes just three months after the EU helped broker the historic deal on Iran’s nuclear programme.

>> Read: World powers reach nuclear deal with Iran, Israel cries foul

But in a harshly-worded statement late Wednesday (14 October) from the spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, Tehran was criticized for the execution of Fatemeh Salbehi, for a crime committed in May 2010, aged 17.

According to Amnesty International, Salbehi was put to death for the murder of her 30-year old husband, Hamed Sadeghi, who she had been forced to marry at the age of 16.

“The use of the death penalty is cruel, and inhumane and degrading in any circumstances, but it is utterly sickening when meted out as a punishment for a crime committed by a person who was under 18 years of age, and after legal proceedings that make a mockery of juvenile justice,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. 

That point was echoed by Mogherini.

“Death penalty sentences for crimes committed by persons below the age of eighteen are contrary to Iran’s international obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she said.

Salbehi was executed on Tuesday in Shiraz’s prison in Fars Province, according to Amnesty International.

The international human rights NGO cited expert opinion from Iran’s State Medicine Organisation from her trial that found she had had severe depression and suicidal thoughts around the time of her husband’s killing. However the death sentence was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court later that year.

Amnesty said the execution “reveal the full horror of the country’s deeply flawed juvenile justice system.”

It was the second execution of a crime committed by a juvenile in Iran this week. Samad Zahabi was hanged for a crime he also committed at 17.

In a statement, Moghereni said: “The European Union reiterates its concerns about the high number of executions in Iran, notably for crimes such as drug offences which do not qualify as “most serious crimes” according to the international human rights law.

>>Read: Europe should speak out about Iran’s appalling rights record

“The European Union is opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and aims at its universal abolition.”

According to the World Coalition Against The Death Penalty, some 90 states around the world still have capital punishment, although not all countries exercise the right to carry it out.

The most death penalties are found in China – with 3,000 executions in 2014. Iran carried out 714 executions last year, with the US on 35 and the Palestinian Authority on 27, and Saudi Arabia killing 90 prisoners.

On 14 July the EU was one of six world power to conclude the Iran Nuclear deal, after more than a decade of negotiations on one of the world’s most delicate geo-political issues.

Along with the US, the EU, the United Nations, the deal saw sanctions on Tehran gradually lifted in return for curbs on the country’s disputed nuclear programme.

The deal was heavily opposed by Israel.

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