Juveniles

Executions of Juveniles Outside of the U.S.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — one of the three International treaties collectively referred to as the International Bill of Human Rights — mandates that the death penalty “shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” Despite that express requirement, a number of countries around the world continue to execute prisoners for crimes they are said to have committed under age eighteen.

Iran is the most prolific executioner of juveniles in the world. The August 2015 Report of the United Nations’ Secretary-General on human rights in Iran expressed ongoing concern “at the frequency of executions, especially for drug-related offences and of juvenile offenders.” The U.N. report said that, while no official data was publicly available, 160 juveniles were reportedly on death row in the country as of 2014. UN Secretary-General, Report to the General Assembly, Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, A/70/352, p.30 (August 31, 2015). Amnesty International recorded 73 executions of juvenile offenders by Iran between January 2005 and November 2015, and believes “[t]he real number is likely to be much higher as many death penalty cases are believed to go unreported.” None of the 73 juvenile executions recorded by Amnesty was officially announced by the Iranian government. Amnesty International, Growing Up on Death Row: The Death Penalty and Juvenile Offenders in Iran, p.28 (2016).

Iran, however, is not the only country in which juveniles are executed. Amnesty International reports that military tribunals in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region continue to carry out executions of children. Five boys, all between ages 14 and 17, were executed on April 8, 2017 for their alleged involvement in the armed group Al-Shabaab’s killing of three senior government officials. Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said “These five boys were executed following a fundamentally flawed process during which they were tortured to confess, denied access to a lawyer and additional protections accorded to juveniles, and tried in a military tribunal.” At the time, Amnesty called on Puntland authorities to spare the lives of two other boys, Muhamed Yasin Abdi, 17, and Daud Saied Sahal, 15, who were facing imminent military execution. Amnesty International, “Somalia: Halt execution spree of children in Puntland,” April 28, 2017. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office reports that Puntland state authorities had more than 50 juveniles in custody whom the European Union believes had been forced to participate in fighting by Al Shabaab. The children were captured during a successful government operation against Al Shabaab in March 2016. United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “Human Rights Priority Country status report: January to June 2016,” updated February 8, 2017.

The human rights organization, Reprieve, reports that Saudi Arabia executed at least four juveniles in January 2016 during a mass execution of 47 people. According to Reprieve, one of the four, Ali al-Ribh, had been arrested in school, tortured into a falsely confessing to involvement in anti-government protests, and executed. Reprieve, “Global executions in 2016,” December 29, 2016. Reprieve reports that three other Saudi juveniles—Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher—who were arrested following pro-democracy protests in 2012 face execution after having been “tortured into signing false ‘confessions’, which were used in a secretive counter-terrorism court to convict them, and sentence them to death.” Reprieve, “Trump in Saudi Arabia as juveniles face execution,” May 15, 2017.

“The death penalty for juvenile offenders appears to have been abandoned by nations everywhere in large part due to the express provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and of several other international treaties and agreements. Since 1990, juvenile offenders are known to have been executed in only seven countries: China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.”
- Victor L. Streib, “The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes January 1973 - September 30, 2003” (2004)

Reported Executions of Juvenile Offenders in Other Countries Since 1990

Country Name of Prisoner Age at crime (C), trial (T), sentence (S), or execution (E) Year of Death
ChinaZhao Lin16 (C), 18 (E)2003
ChinaGao Pan16 or 17 (C)2004
Democratic Republic of CongoKasongo14 (C/E)2000
IranKazeem Shirafkan17 (E)1990
IranMale (name unknown)16 (E)1992
IranMale (name unknown)17 (E)1992
IranMale (name unknown)17 (E)1992
IranEbrahim Qorbanzadeh17 (E)1999
IranJasem Abrahimi17 (E)2000
IranMehrdad Youssefi16 (C)2001
IranMohammad Mohammadzadeh17 (C), 21 (E)2004
IranSalman17 (C)2004
IranAtefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh16 (E)2004
IranIman Farrokhi17 (C)2005
IranAli Safarpour Rajabi16 or 17 (C)2005
IranMahmoud Asghari15 or 16 (C)2005
IranAyaz Marhoni16 or 17 (C)2005
IranFarshid Farighi14 to 16 (C)2005
IranName unknown17 (E)2005
IranName unknown17 (C)2005
IranRostam Tajik16 (C)2005
IranMajid Segound (Sagvand)17 (E)2006
IranSattar17 (C)2006
IranMorteza M16 (C)2006
IranNaser Batmaniuner 18 (C)2006
IranMohammad Mousawi16 (C)2007
IranSa’id Qanabar Zahi17 (E)2007
IranMohammad Pezhman (Pejman)under 18 (C)2007
IranAmir Asgariunder 18 (C)2007
IranHossein Gharabaghloo16 (C)2007
IranBabak Rahimi17 (E)2007
IranName unknownunder 18 (C)2007
IranName unknownunder 18 (C)2007
IranMohamad Reza Tork16 (C)2007
IranMakwan Moloudzadeh13 (C)2007
IranAmir Hoshang Fazlollahzadehunder 18 (C)2007
IranJavad Shojaee16 (C)2008
IranMohammad Hassanzadeh16 or 17 (E)2008
IranHasan Mozafariunder 18 (C)2008
IranRahman Shahidiunder 18 (C)2008
IranReza Hejazi15 (C)2008
IranBehnam Zare15 (C)2008
IranGholamreza H17 (C)2008
IranAhmad Zare17 (C)2008
IranMola Gol Hassan17 (C)2009
IranDelara Darabi17 (C)2009
IranAli Jafari17 (C)2009
IranBahnoud Shojaee17 (C)2009
IranMosleh Zamani17 (C)2009
IranMohammad A.17 (C)2010
IranA.N.17 (C)2011
IranH.B.17 (C)2011
IranAli Reza Molla Soltani17 (E)2011
IranMohammad Norouzi17 (C)2011
IranVahid Moslemi17 (C)2011
IranEhsan17 (C)2011
IranAmir Shirmohammadi17 (C)2011
IranAmir A.14 (C)2012
IranShahruz17 (C)2012
IranSamad16 (C)2012
IranBahram Ahmadi17 (C)2012
IranSaid Afshar15 (C)2013
IranAbdolhamid SekhavatianUnder 18 (C)2013
IranArman Mohammadi12 (C)2013
IranName Unknown14 (C)2013
IranName UnknownUnder 18 (C)2013
IranAhmad Seif Panahi16 (C)2013
IranAhmad Jenkihoo15 (C)2013
IranAbdolaziz Ra’is17 (C)2013
IranIraj Nasiri15 (C)2013
IranMehras Rezaei17 (C)2014
IranHassan Gholami14 (C)2014
IranHassan Zolfaqari17 (C)2014
IranReza Ganjlu16 (C)2014
IranJanat MirUnder 18 (C)2014
IranAhmad Rahimi17 (C)2014
IranAli Fouladi16 (C)2014
IranEbrahim Hajati16 (C)2014
IranAmir Sardaha’i17 (C)2014
IranHadi Veysi15 (C)2014
IranFardin Ja’farian14 (C)2014
IranRahim Norallahzadeh14 (C)2014
IranJavad Saberi17 (C)2015
IranVazir Amroddin16 (C)2015
IranSamad Zahabi17 (C)2015
IranFatemeh Salbehi17 (C)2015
IranHassan Afshar17 (C)2016
IranName UnknownUnder 18 (C)2016
IranMehrdad Arman Bahr Asemani16 (C)2017
IranHassan Hassan-ZadehUnder 18 (C)2017
IranAsghar Mohamadi16 (C)2017
IranAlireza Tajiki15 (C)2017
IranAmirhossein PouriafarUnder 18 (C)2018
IranAli Kazemi15 (C)2018
IranMahboubeh Mofidi17 (C)2018
IranAbolfazi Chezani Sharahi15 (C)2018
IranZeinab Sekaanvand Lokran17 (C)2018
NigeriaChiebore Onuoha15 (C)1997
PakistanName Unknown17 (E)1992
PakistanShamun Masih14 (C)1997
PakistanAli Sher13 (C)2001
PakistanMutabar Khan16 (C)2006
PakistanAnsar Iqbal15 (A)2015
PakistanShafqat Hussain14 (T)2015
PakistanAftab Bahadur15 (C)2015
PakistanFaisal MehmoodUnder 18 (C)2015
PakistanMuhammad Afzal16 (S)2015
Saudi ArabiaSadeq Mal-Allah17 (S)1992
Saudi ArabiaDhahian Rakan al-Sibai’l15 or 16 (C)2007
Saudi ArabiaMoeid bin Hussein Hakami16 (E)2007
Saudi ArabiaSultan Bin Sulayman Bin Muslim al-Muwallad17 (C)2009
Saudi Arabia‘Issa bin Muhammad ‘Umar Muhammad17 (C)2009
Saudi ArabiaRizana Nafeek17 (C)2013
Saudi ArabiaAli bin Muhammad bin Hazam al-Shihri16 (C)2013
Saudi ArabiaSa’id bin Nasser bin Muhammad al-Shahrani17 (C)2013
South SudanName UnknownUnder 18 (C)2017
South SudanName UnknownUnder 18 (C)2017
SudanMohammed Jama Gesmallah16 (C)2005
SudanImad Ali Abdullah17 (C)2005
YemenNasser Munir Nasser al’Kirbi13 (E)1993
YemenAdil Muhammad Saif al-Ma’amari16 (C)2007
YemenFuad Ahmed Ali Abdulla Under 18 (C)2012

Country-Specific Conditions

Country Notes
China

China revised a law in 1997 forbidding the execution of defendants under age 18 at the time of the crime, but juveniles continue to be executed due to insufficient care in determining the age of defendants.

Democratic Republic of Congo

In 2001, the death sentences of five children were commuted. At the time of writing there was a moratorium on executions in effect.

Iran

In December 2003, a bill to raise the minimum age to 18 was approved by the parliament, but must still receive the approval of the highest governing body in Iran, the Guardian Council, to become law.

Pakistan

In July 2000, the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance was promulgated, abolishing the death penalty for anyone under 18 at the time of the crime. In July 2002 it was announced that 74 young offenders had been taken off death row.

Yemen

In 1994 Yemen abolished the death penalty for people under 18 at the time of the crime.

Sources

Amnesty International Indecent and Internationally Illegal: The Death Penalty Against Child Offenders” September 2002, with updat­ed infor­ma­tion from Amnesty International: Execution of Child Offenders — Updated Summary of Cases, Executions of Juveniles Since 1990 (Latest ver­sion: March 2018); Amnesty International: Death Sentences and Executions 2017; UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner Zeid appalled by exe­cu­tion of juve­nile offend­ers in Iran”; UN News, Execution of juve­nile offend­er in Iran deeply dis­tress­ing’”