[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Thursday urged [press release] Iran to halt the execution of Saman Naseem, a man jailed as a teen and sentenced to death for “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth.” Naseem was arrested in July 2011 following a battle between the Revolutionary Guard [CFR backgrounder] and the opposition Party For Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], in which a member of the Revolutionary Guard was killed and three others injured. In January 2012 Naseem was sentenced to death, a sentence that was overturned in August of that year but ultimately reaffirmed in December 2013. Naseem claimed in a letter seen by AI that he was kept in a cell measuring two by one-half yards and tortured for 97 days before he confessed. Naseem retracted that confession at trial, claiming to have only fired his gun in the air. AI’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui stated:
Saman’s execution must be immediately stopped and his case thoroughly reviewed. This is the reality of the criminal justice system in Iran, which makes a mockery of its own statements that it … upholds its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Iran’s deplorable practice of torturing people into “confessing” to crimes before sentencing them to death must stop immediately.
Now 22 years old, Naseem is scheduled to be put to death on February 19.
This is not the first time an international human rights organization has urged Iran to stay an execution. In April UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran [official website] Ahmed Shaheed urged [JURIST report] Iran to halt the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, a woman sentenced to death for murdering Mortez Abdolali Sarbandi, a man she accused of attempting to sexually assault her. Jabbari was executed [JURIST report] in October. In July Italian advocacy group Hands off Cain released a report [JURIST report] revealing that the number of deaths by capital punishment increased despite a general global trend toward capital punishment abolition, with Iran being among the global leaders in executions. In June former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned [JURIST report] Iran’s use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders and called on authorities to halt the announced execution of Razieh Ebrahimi. Also in June a group of independent UN human rights experts condemned [JURIST report] Iran’s execution of a political prisoner, calling for the country to end the death penalty. AI also urged [JURIST report] Iran to not execute this prisoner, stating, “Yet again Iranian authorities are about to execute a man who did not even receive a fair trial in total disregard of both international and Iranian Law.”