Amnesty International appealed for Iran to stop executing children and those who committed their crimes before they turned 18, in a report published Wednesday.
The London-based human rights group said that 71 children, indicted for a variety of offences, were awaiting the death penalty in Iran, and added that Iran had executed the most minors of any country in the world since 1990.
In that time 11 children were executed while they were still legally minors, and a further 13 were killed after remaining on death row until they had reached their 18th birthday before being hanged, Amnesty said.
â€œIran stands virtually alone as a country in which child offendersâ€”persons under 18 at the time of the crime of which they were convictedâ€”are put to death,â€ Malcolm Smart, the director of Amnestyâ€™s Middle East and North Africa programme, said in a statement.
â€œIt is high time that the Iranian authorities put an end to this shameful practiceâ€”for once and for allâ€”and bring themselves in line with the rest of the international community, which has long recognized the obscenity of executing those who commit crimes while children.â€
Teheran denies that it executes children.
Amnesty, however, said that as recently as a month ago, Said Qanbar Zahi, 17, was executed, while another youngster, 19-year-old Mohammad Mousavi, who was sentenced to death aged 16, was executed in April.
Other than Iran, the only countries that have executed minors since 2003 are China, Sudan and Pakistan, Amnesty said, calling on Teheran to order a moratorium on all child executions and to amend existing laws so that no child who commits a crime can face capital punishment.