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Iran judiciary proposes legislation lessening penalties for juvenile offenders

[JURIST] The Judiciary of Iran [official website, in Persian] announced Tuesday that it has submitted proposed legislation to the Iranian Parliament [official website] recommending substantial changes to the treatment of juvenile offenders in Iran [JURIST news archive]. The legislation seeks to amend [IranVNC report] the classification of minors into three age groups - 7-12, 12-15, and 15-18 - to allow for more appropriate sentencing of offenders. The judiciary further recommends that the death penalty [JURIST news archive] be used only if it can be demonstrated that the offenders possessed the maturity to understand the implication of their crimes. The new age classifications also seek to limit [AFP report] time spent in jail. A juvenile under 15 who commits a crime may receive little or no time in a juvenile prison for a crime that, when committed by an adult, would result in substantial jail time.

The proposed legislation signals further change from previous attitudes concerning the punishment of minor offenders. In October, the Judiciary banned [JURIST report] the imposition of the death penalty for drug-related offenses. Iran has previously been heavily criticized by human rights groups for imposing the death penalty on minors. In September, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged Iran to ban the use of the death penalty [UN News Centre report; JURIST report] against juvenile offenders. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has said that Iran leads the world in executing the most people for crimes committed as children [press release].

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