Middle East, May 6, 2017 - Peyman Barandah, who was arrested by the Iranian regime at 15, is at imminent risk of execution. On May 2, the prosecutor of Shiraz met with his family and told them that if the check of 5.5 billion rails ($169,500 US) representing “blood money” that was given to the family of the teenager that Barandah was accused of killing did not clear by May 7, then his execution would be carried out on May 10 as planned. When his family wrote the check, they didn’t have the funds and admit that they still do not have the money to pay the debt. The prosecutor then acknowledged that there was not anything his office could do to stop the execution.
His execution was originally scheduled for April 9, but was postponed to give his family more time to raise the money. This is just another example of money weighing heavier on the scales of justice than a young man’s life.
His trial was a classic example of Iranian justice. He was initially imprisoned for three months in solitary confinement without access to his family or an attorney. During this time period, he was subject to horrific treatment, including beatings and other forms of torture and ill-treatment. He met his lawyer for the first time at his trial, which was roughly four hours long and included no protections for his juvenile status. Instead, he was tried as an adult, which violates the international rules regarding juvenile judicial proceedings.
There was no investigation ordered into his allegations of torture during his confinement. He was sentenced to death in August 2012 for stabbing a teenager during a fight, which he steadfastly denies. His sentence was upheld in September 2013 by Branch Six of the Supreme Court.
Amnesty International is campaigning to have his conviction quashed and to have him granted a retrial with the proper protections that should be afforded a juvenile, including taking the death penalty off the table as a possible sentence. They also want to encourage the international community to call on Iran to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty for Iranian citizens.
They also noted that Iran’s Article 19 needs to be amended to abolish the sue of the death penalty for crimes committed by individuals under the age of 18, in line with Iran’s human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention one the Rights of the Child.
Since 2016, Barandah has made three requests for a retrial under the juvenile sentencing provisions of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code (IPC) and all three were rejected by the Supreme Court. To date, no written decision has ever been communicated to him, his family or his attorney. His family said the judge presiding over Branch 35 of the Supreme Court told them, “His death sentence is the will of God and the Prophet and must be carried out and nothing can be done about it.”
The minimal age of criminal responsibility in Iran is set at nine lunar years for girls and 15 lunar years for boys. From this age, a child who is convicted of murder or crimes that fall in the category of hodud (offenses that carry inalterable punishments prescribed by Sharia law) is generally convicted and sentenced as an adult. The burden of proof of his innocence was put on Barandah’s shoulders, which violates the presumption of innocence and the prosecution did not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a fair trial.
In January 2016, Iranian authorities claimed before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that “all adolescents who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime are granted retrials…and their previous verdicts are annulled by the Supreme Court.” However, lawyers have told Amnesty International that some branches of the Supreme Court tend to deny the applications for an Article 91 retrial. Amnesty International has identified at least 90 juveniles who are currently on death row. Many have spent prolonged periods on death row, in some cases more than a decade. Some have had their executions scheduled then postponed or stayed at the last minute on multiple occasions, thus adding to their mental and emotional abuse.