Child executions to end in Iran?

Back in March I wrote about Nazanin Afshin-Jan, a campaigner I met at a human rights conference in Taiwan who focused a lot of her efforts on trying to bring about an end to the Iranian government’s practice of allowing the execution of children.

Recent news reports suggest the efforts of Nazanin and other human rights campaigners in this area may have born some fruit, with this report quoting an Iranian official that “a directive was issued commuting death sentences for offenders under 18 to life in jail.”  This report in the International Herald Tribune, while also indicating progress, sounds slightly less definitive about the prospects of there being a total end to child executions in Iran. 

This looks like a good example of international pressure by non-government organisations helping to being about a positive change by a government – although the pressure will need to be maintained to make sure the Iranian announcement is followed through with action.

There is slow progress being made on reducing the use of the death penalty around the world. It will take a long time yet, but every potential success should be acknowledged and celebrated.

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17 Comments

  1. And it may have been because of you too,you humble ex-Servant Senator! To be liked or at least accepted from afar from that leader,as you may have been Andrew,is better than any stated acceptances from the U.S.A. For the great difficulty it must present the Iranians,rather than denying or accusing something about the U.S.A. Which is really easy to do,and seems to encourage them,whereas to encourage Iranians is a great difficulty,but worthy,without denying a lot of history,or thinking their future in Iran will be without pressures now,that we do not even understand now.

  2. I saw a most disturbing documentary on SBS maybe last year, where a young woman not yet 16 was hung, for crimes pertaining to her alleged ‘immoral sexual relations’ ? It was a very sad story, about a vulnerable young woman who was alone, and assaulted by an older man. As there was no ‘witnesses’ to the rape, she was deemed the instigator, who was jailed, tortured and raped in jail by security personnel, and assaulted again upon release. Even though the so-called law stated, that she should not be executed, it went ahead. They were mobile gallows, that would roll into town, and executions would then take place. It was horrific, but as I’d read about it via Amnesty International, and had participated in actions decrying this horror, I felt compelled to see it through, although, thankfully, the actual killing was not filmed.

    Sadly, the US does execute minors(when they committed the crime) and just as appalling, they have mandatory life senntences for certain crimes, even if that person is a minor at the time. The US is only 2nd to China in the numbers of executions per year, which is appalling. I have always been opposed to the death penalty, regardless of the crime. It’s state sanctioned murder in my view – it’s not punishment, it’s revenge. I refuse to sanction any like ‘crimes’ to the horrors already committed; for example, those responsible for the Bali bombings. Those who lost family/friends, or were badly injured, won’t feel any better in the long run. Their lives won’t be reversed, and you never get over losing a much loved person, you just get used to living without them; very slowly and with a heavy heart. I also think, that the ‘brains’ behind it have never been sought, let alone caught. After a disturbing documentary I watched a few yrs ago, I’m not convinced of the Indonesian military not being involved, in these or other bombing incidents, resulting in deaths. I’d rather see the 3 convicted, in jail until they’re very old men – no publicity!

  3. There are still movements in the U.S.A. to not only impeach the present President,but also being up for murder.As far as the Bali Bombers are concerned,I think they are patsies.All the publicity may suggest for extreme Muslims reasons.I dont believe thats the reality- the Muslims and army types who support the Bali Bombers maybe being manipulated.If Indonesia doesn’t change its way of doing things,there are many ways to manipulate whole populations.I think cases where brain washing is likely to have been done,then a death penalty,may need to be invoked .

  4. But some contributors here don’t mind if completely innocent unborn babies get executed, do they?

    It seems we must now sanctify the lives of war criminals such as Saddam Hussein, Bali bombers, and serial paedophiles such as Dennis Ferguson.

    The Victorian Senate very recently legalised abortion on a 23/17 vote. That’s state sanctioned murder in my view. It’s not punishment. It’s not revenge. It’s just cold-blooded murder for no reason at all, except human selfishness.

  5. I certainly hope somethign can be done, despite this gloomy report http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7680843.stm

    It is saddening to read that at least some of the executed children were girls, who were executed after four crimes ‘against chastity’, which would lead them open to execution after having been abused in the first place, or killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, e.g. in a cafe with a boy.

    The West can take no pride in our moral superiority. Apparently it was the case in 2005 that:
    “A report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said young offenders in USA are often given life sentences without the
    chance of parole – numbering at least 2,225 in the US. The rest of the world had abut a dozen such young prisoners, that we know of, at least.” Hard to believe that any country could throw such a lot of children on the scrapheap with no incentive to reform, let alone one that claims to be the most civilsed country. We should be opposing that practice everywhere.

    I’d prefer Australia to once again stand on principle with regard to any capital punishment, and restore our national spine by ceasing to co-operate with jurisdictions that impose capital punishment, as was done under Howard

  6. LORIKEET

    But some contributors here don’t mind if completely innocent unborn babies get executed, do they?

    Come on Lorikeet, have the guts to say you’re referring to me. To terminate a pregnancy, in the first trimester, is nothing like murdering unborn babies.Where was your voice when that woman was deported to China to a certain abortion, even though her confinement was only a couple of weeks away. Like other women in the women’s movement, I participated in lobbying the Howard Govt against her forced removal.

    It is a bloody lie to even suggest, that woman decide to have a termination for selfish reasons. At the age of 63,I’ve been privy to many confidences, and heard even more accounts of individual experiences, and I can assure you, that I haven’t come across a woman who made the decision to terminate a pregnancy for selfish reasons. Women and girls are raped; married women or women in relationships often experience their first act of domestic violence while pregnant for the first time – these women are more likely to have an abortion, or have a very difficult pregnancy. The most common age group to have terminations are women in their late 20’s-30’s. Some don’t find out until almost half way, that their baby has a very serious genetic or medical problem. When I hear parents of kids with a disability repeat some of the most cruel comments, I don’t judge any woman who decides to terminate her pregnancy. Comments such as ‘why do you bring him/her out with normal people’? ‘Why didn’t you get rid of it’? ‘My taxes go to people like you – he/she shouldn’t even be here’!

    If males insisted on using condems, unless they wanted a child, the problem would be lessened markedy-but no,they get let off the hook,while the woman whose sin/irresponsibility becomes evident in time,has her name/actions etc blackened. I’m sick of the hypocrisy! Heard of the saying,’walk in someone else’s shoes’?

  7. Dolphins:

    I think Australia is much too soft on criminals. Very often, the victim ends up being punished twice. A man from the USA told me his country was becoming the same.

    I’m wondering what some of those 2,225 young offenders have done.

    To my knowledge, the USA has a terrible social support system. When you combine that with rampant immorality, poor family values and an abundant supply of guns, of course you’re going to have a much higher juvenile crime rate.

    As for those girls being executed in Iran, now that’s an atrocity.

    The idea of “blood money” is terrible.

    If you want to see more of the atrocious treatment of women (even those from the English aristocracy), I suggest you go and see “The Duchess” at the cinema.

    Naomi:

    I’ve walked in many other people’s shoes and I’m not a gutless person by any means. In 2008, most people abort perfectly healthy unborn babies simply because they don’t suit their convenience.

    I’m not talking about rape cases or other extenuating circumstances.

    In the USA, women are allowed to abort their children having used the most flimsy of “medical” excuses.

    The Chaplain I know says men have no say in whether or not women abort their children, but I’ve also heard of cases where the man has forced a woman to abort their child. Some of these people are married couples!

    But I still think people who want to sanctify the lives of adults committing heinous crimes, while supporting abortion, are parties to the greatest hypocrisy of all.

    It is neither a sin nor irresponsibility for a woman to allow her unborn child to live. Killing it is a crime against humanity. Remember we were all a “cluster of cells” once, just as we still are.

    I think women have an equal responsibility with men, where contraception is concerned. Sometimes it’s both the man and the unborn child who receive the raw deal – not the woman.

  8. lorikeet – “In 2008, most people abort perfectly healthy unborn babies simply because they don’t suit their convenience.” How many women have you spoken to who’ve had abortions, let alone be able to make grand statements like this. I think there’s a big difference between an embryo of 7 wks or even 14 wk foetus, and a 40 week old foetus! Unless you know every woman or couple, you can’t make statements like that; also, it’s tough enough raising a child who’s loved & wanted – I can’t imagine what life kids have who aren’t. As a society, we’re not very supportive of mothers. They get conflicting advice and constant expectations, which also differ widely – then they have the glossy mindless magazines that preach mindless impossible expectations and images. If a woman’s partner takes off upon hearing the news, who can blame her for being too scared to continue, particularly if her family won’t support her, or she’s poor or doesn’t speak english etc. Perhaps we should support mothers, and stick up for them more! As I’ve stated before, many women experience domestic violence for the first time when pregnant, and I heard 3 midwives say(ABC radio) that it’s quite common to see women with an imprint of a man’s workboot on their pregnant bellies?1 in 4 women are abused in their homes?
    As for criminals getting off too lightly. I might agree, if you could show me where corporate crooks get the sentence they deserve, or if they have to pay the money back to those disabled people who’ll never get insurance payments again. Why the high incidence of blacks in both US and Aust.jails – not because they’re evil or bad, but the fact that they get locked up for crimes whites probably receive a light sentence or community service order or nothing, and can afford better legal advice?
    George W Bush signed the death warrants for about 130 while he was governor of Texas – at least 20 of them have been proven innocent? Probably more will be. Just an Ooooopppss! situation I suppose

  9. I think it is also the case that blacks are more likely to be living in poverty, and commit crimes as a direct/indirect consequence of living conditions.

    Yes, white collar criminals get off much too lightly as well. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have significant economic worries.

    I find it necessary to at least try to have a cohesive set of values, which would not include murdering the unborn while sticking up for the likes of Saddam Hussein where the death sentence is concerned.

    Yes, the abortion issue can be complex, but many people just use it as a post-conception measure. I’m sure those young girls/women must carry guilt with them for the rest of their lives. An unplanned pregnancy ought not to be treated as an “oops” situation where (by comparison with your scenario) 130 unborn babies die when ALL ARE INNOCENT.

  10. The united states peak mental health body says this about children on death row: “Studies show that victims of child abuse or neglect are over represented in the juvenile justice system, including those on death row. Children with these prior histories consistently demonstrate a high incidence of mental disorders, serious brain injuries, substance abuse and learning disabilities, which may predispose to aggressive or violent behavior. However, these juveniles never received adequate diagnostic assessments or interventions for the mental health disorders that could have led them to community-based treatment facilities instead of death row.” They also mention the socio-economic factos already spoken of here, which would feed into the mental health aspect, given the health system in USA. http://www1.nmha.org/position/deathPenalty/juvissuebrief.cfm

    Given the doubts about the processes of USA law, for example see here http://www.ncadp.org where a man whose whole case seems to be unreliable was almost executed this coming Monday (27th) – and it is by no means sure that he will escape that fate yet. There are 2 public defenders for 160 people on death row.

    Personally, I don’t care what crime they may or may not have comitted, though the issue of innocence certainly adds a shocking twist to this. I don’t believe that when we make murderers of ourselves we do anybody any good, and we deprive ourselves as a society of the opportunity to help someone turn their life around, we avoid the possibility of an irrevocable death in case of later facts being shown and if we have to house and feed enough perpetrators of heinous crimes maybe we’ll make more effort to find out why this happenes in the first place.

  11. LORIKEET – I was talking about 130 people who were put to death via the signature of GWB – at least 20 of them(could be more by now) had been killed and they were not guilty. You still insist on using grand sweeping statements re the reasons why women have abortions – you don’t have that right, nor do I – but none do it lightly! It is not a happy, casual decision, and you have no right to make it so! I also believe in the morning after pill, and believe it should be available over the counter – no contraceptive device is 100% effective – that’s why men should take more responsiblity, and the catholic church should mind their own business. As one of the groups of high child abusers around the world, they have a damned cheek to object to contraception/abortion or immorality of any kind – perceived or imagined!

    I’m no friend of Saddam Hussein, but he was killed for the more minor case against him – the case for the other mass killings was in the pipeline, but the US didn’t want that case to be aired – they were culpable also, particularly after George Bush Snr changed his mind after 1st gulf war, and allowed Saddam full reign on the ground and by air, to murder those who were encouraged by Bush to rise up against him.

  12. Naomi:

    Whatever complexion you want to put on it, your values are not cohesive.

    If there’s a grand sweeping statement here, it will be where you have blamed catholics (billions of individuals) for the abuse of children, and then stated that they should all have no say in the murder of the unborn.

    I fear you may be out of touch with the increasing number of young school girls who are sent for abortions by their parents. Instead of guiding and supervising their children across a range of behaviours (some non-sexual), many parents find it quicker and easier to provide a “quick fix” after something has gone wrong.

    Dolphins:

    It’s a sad fact that criminals and people with mental illnesses are often born, not bred. Various addictions (such as substance abuse and gambling) and learning disabilities are now also thought to be hereditary.

  13. Lorikeet – not sure what you mean by “born, not bred” if you are referring to hereditary mental health issues. They seem the same to me.

    However, whether or not such people are irredeemably flawed or not is not the point – many such people can be helped with drugs, or a combination of therapies. I’d be interested in whether you think that a foetus with, e.g. mental health problems should be saved, as I’m sure you’d say one with CP or Down Syndrome.

    If you think “defective children” ought not to be aborted, do you think they ought to be executed AFTER their birth if they commit serious crimes? If so, doesn’t that seem inconsistent? At what point does “innocence” end? That’s not really my whole point, which is that if we throw people in the bin when they don’t fit in, for whatever reason, we have made ourselves no better than they, and prevented them for ever contributing, even as a bad example, to community life.

    Since this thread is about the execution of children, perhaps I should not ask this, but you and Naomi seem to have wandered off into the wilds of the abortion debate, and I do see parallels.

  14. Dolphins:

    When I say born, I mean hereditary factors (nature).

    When I say bred, I am talking about upbringing (nurture), but I think the general consensus amongst psychiatrists is that there can be overlap between the two.

    The question relating to Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome is tough. I know a child with mild CP who is highly intelligent, but I cannot say what his life prospects might be in terms of employment/marriage. His mother is a social worker and is knowledgeable enough to get the best outcome for her child. She is also an advocate for other disabled children.

    I also vaguely know a couple with a Down Syndrome child. The man told me if his wife ever conceived a DS child again, he would want it aborted. He doesn’t think the life prospects for the child they already have are too good. He says she will be dependent for the whole of her life.

    It’s my belief that children diagnosed with ADHD mostly only need well-disciplined and loving home and learning environments to improve outcomes, but it might not apply to everyone. Some are gifted children who are being bored to death at school. Others might have intractable hereditary factors.

    I prefer not to delve into the realm of exceptional circumstances where abortion is concerned (e.g. rape, serious threats to the mother’s life or health, or exceptional circumstances relating to the disabled).

    I think it is true to say that a lot of people with mental health problems can often be successfully treated and lead productive lives – but some can also be a danger to themselves and/or others.

    I don’t support abortion on demand at all.

    I don’t really think we need “bad examples to community life” who are serial criminals let loose on the community. I only support the death penalty if governments won’t keep them behind bars.

  15. Lorikeet, so in other words, for you the issue of the innocence of the aborted foetus is not the crucial point. It seems to be about whether they will be able to gain employment, or be independent. That sounds like an argument for euthanasia of the elderly to me.

    As I understand it, there is no “abortion on demand” in this country. My understanding is that at least one, possibly two, doctors have to believe that the risk to the mother’s well-being is paramount in deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy.

    My position is easier to state than yours. As a Buddhist, I oppose war, capital punishment and abortion, instead believing in humane incarceration for people who are a danger to themselves and the community. If we need to care for a dependent Down Syndrome person, or a CP person for life, where is the problem? What more important thing could someone be doing? I’d rather be employed as a carer for a disabled person on a decent wage, than work in a parasitic industry like pubs, casinos or seling luxury motor cars, wouldn’t you?

    Community resources need to be diverted to support for such endeavours, rather than keeping inhumane detention centres ticking over on Christmas Island at goodness only knows what cost.

    It is only because we don’t see that we are all connected, that what affects one of us affects all of us, that makes people think that killing murderers makes our society better, or even safer. If we understand what causes people to commit crime, and try to help them, we do more good than pretending that if we can only kill enough people our world will be safe and happy.

  16. LORIKEET – “I only support the death penalty if govts won’t keep them behind bars”? Are you serious? If you are, I hope you never get into politics. I’ve heard of some pretty way out things, but that statement is bazarre? A crime is either deserving of a serious jail term or not. The Law shouldn’t be used to get rid of people who society can’t or doesn’t want to deal with. That’s what Hitler did! So you think for pedophiles or ???the next person doesn’t like the idea of rapists being jailed? The next person? Corporate crooks? Simply amazing? And my values aren’t cohesive?

    Unlike males and haemophillia, not all genetic ‘conditions’ are that definite. With alcoholism for instance or other substance use, there can be a genetic component, but not all children etc of alcoholics are afflicted in the same manner. There’s a genetic component in many cancers, but doesn’t necesssarily follow that people will automatically contract the disease – it’s a factor, but with most things in life, it’s just a variable.
    I’ve read an article that suggested, that children with ADHD could have mothers who were physically abused during pregnancy – something to do with ‘substances’ released into the system (the fight or flight phenomena) during the development of the embryo/foetus. I haven’t read anything since. Many women experience DV for the 1st time during pregnancy – the link should be explored.I also heard a dentist assert during an ABC Catlyst program(followed the struggle of a premmy baby) that bad teeth could explain premature labour – it was to do with the same substance in the bloodsream due to this, with the ‘hormone’ that precipitates the onset of labour. (prostalaglins?) The dentist advocated the automatic dental checkup of all women in early pregnancy.
    Desperate women have always chosen abortion – I don’t believe they should die from a backyard job as in the past?Women should have the right to make THEIR OWN DECISIONS! We’re intelligent beings?

  17. Dolphins:

    I didn’t say I would abort a disabled child, did I? But I don’t think I could make that decision for another person. I am against abortion in non-exceptional circumstances. If someone is carrying a baby with 3 heads and no limbs, I think we should loosen the chains.

    I also oppose euthanasia because I think if it were legalised, it would very quickly be misused by the greedy. Whatever is legalised is both condoned and encouraged.

    An abortion is a very easy thing to organise. Women could easily get one in a clinic in Sydney more than 35 years ago, and at least 30 years ago in Brisbane. The doctor who opened the first abortion clinic in Brisbane was lucky he was not assassinated by university specialists I worked with.

    What we are told in theory is not generally what happens in practice.

    For decades, doctors have ramped up morphine dosages to relieve terminal suffering. They can easily help people out legitimately without legislation.

    I don’t like war either, but I think it’s hard to get away from it, if your country is threatened. You can’t just wait for people wielding machetes, or firing guns and RPGs, to go away.

    Naomi:

    I don’t think what I said was bizarre at all. I would prefer serial killers and paedophiles to be kept behind bars.

    However I much prefer to preserve the lives of the unborn over some truly disgusting and dangerous human beings.

    In relation to abortion, the “backyard job” became obsolete at least 35 years ago.

    I think the word you were looking for in relation to premature labour was “prostaglandins”, the hormone which makes the uterus contract during labour and menstruation.

    In relation to the ADHD theory, the substance you were looking for was “adrenaline”.

    I gave birth to a very “jumpy” baby, because I had coughed and sneezed my way through the pregnancy (bronchitis, hayfever). He sneezed a helluva lot in the early months, and preferred to have little company.

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