[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Wednesday called for Iran to stop using the death penalty for juveniles [press release] convicted of serious crimes. HRW said that Iran has executed offenders who committed crimes when they were as young as 15. With at least 17 juvenile offenders executed since the beginning of 2004, eight times more than any other country, Iran leads the world in the practice. Iran is a party to both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [texts], and HRW said that both treaties "prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18."
Although some Iranian officials have outright denied that juveniles are executed, others have indicated that the Iranian Parliament [official website] is seeking to establish special juvenile courts to end the practice. HRW said that Iranian judges have the discretion to order the execution of a juvenile offender if the convicted defendant was "mentally mature," and urged that this discretion be revoked. AP has more.