Juvenile Offender, Mohammad Kalhor, in Imminent Danger of Execution
Mohammad Kalhor's Lawyer, Mohammad Aqakhani, declared that his client who is
sentenced to death for murdering his teacher at the age of 15, might be
According to a close source, Mohammad Kalhor is a student from Boroujerd city
who stabbed his 43-year-old physics teacher, Mohsen Khashkhashi, on November
22, 2014, when he was 15.
Mohammad Kalhor's lawyer, Mohammad Aqakhani, told IHR that the Head of the
Judiciary approves the verdict and the case is sent to the Sentence
Implementation Branch; therefore, Mohammad might be executed soon.
According to the forensic report which was delivered in January 2016, Mohammad
Kalhor was mentally immature at the time of the crime. However, Branch 1 of the
Criminal Court of Lorestan sentenced him to death. The verdict was rejected by
the Supreme Court and was processed again in a parallel court in Lorestan. The
second court also sentenced him to death in January 2017 which was approved by
the Supreme Court.
Mohammad Kalhor's lawyer confirmed that his client was only 15 at the time of
the crime and said, "Mr. Boroujerdi, Head of the National Security Commission
and Boroujerd's representative, wrote a letter to the Supreme Court and asked
for special attention to this case. Consequently, the Supreme Court approved
Mohammad Aqakhani continued, "We asked for a retrial for the 3rd time, but the
Supreme Court hasn't replied to our request yet. Since our request has been
denied twice before, the sentence might be implemented anytime which worries
He concluded, "We are worried about Mohammad's condition. He shouldn't be held
at adults' prison. Besides, he needs to see a doctor and a psychiatrist."
It should be noted that Mohammad Kalhor was transferred from Lorestan's
Correctional Center to Boroujerd Central Prison in February 2018 because he is
18 years old now and his case was sent to the Sentence Implementation Branch
around the same time.
It is worth mentioning that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which
Iran has signed, clearly bans execution and life imprisonment of juveniles.
In 2017, at least 5 juvenile offenders were executed in Iran. Furthermore, at
least 3 juvenile offenders were executed in January 2018 in Iran.
(source: Iran Human Rights)
Latest Report Finds Human Rights in Iran Are Abysmal
The Iran Human Rights Monitor has released its report into the state of human
rights in Iran during March 2018 and, as always, it makes for unpleasant
reading, with many instances of executions, arbitrary murders, torture,
corporal punishment, abuse of political prisoners, and lack of a just legal
Here, we will provide a summary of the key topics raised in the report, but for
more information, please visit the site itself. As always, these numbers cited
here are believed to be lower than the actual number of people who have been
executed/killed/punished by the Regime, due to the Regime's attempts to hide
There were 12 registered executions in March, with two unnamed men executed in
public. This included some people who were suffering from mental illness and
some who may have been children when the crime was committed.
Here are the names of the 10 that Iran HRM could identify:
1. Hamid Imani
2. Masoud Vakili
3. Keyvan Rashkhar
4. Ramin Razavi
5. Mehdi Sarabi
6. Ayoub Babakhani
7. Ehsan Yaqubi
8. Javad Golniat
9. Mohammad Rostami
10. Rahim Salimi
There are a further 86 inmates currently on death row in the notorious
On March 26, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) opened fire and
killed Ibrahim Soleimani, a porter and father of 5.
Deaths in custody
In March, 3 prisoners in Iran were tortured to death and 2 more died because
the authorities refused to allow them urgent medical care.
The 3 tortured include:
-- Ghobad Azimi, who was killed under torture just 2 days after he was
detained by the Javanroud Intelligence Agency, but his family were told that he
committed suicide. This is a favoured tactic by the Regime to cover up their
-- Mohammad Raji, a member of the Dervish Gonabadi community, who was arrested
during a protest against the Regime's abuses against members of his faith.
-- Ali Savari, whose body shows signs of torture, was tortured to death by a
notorious prison guard in Sheiban Prison, called Hamidian.
The HRM report only named one of the prisoners who died through a lack of
medical attention. He was Vahid Safarzehi who reportedly swallowed a razor
blade and could have been save if he'd been seen by a doctor.
Inhuman treatment and cruel punishments
The report cited 2 instances of public flogging in Bushehr and Sirjan in early
March, but the victims are unnamed.
At least 2,100 people were arrested in March, with 889 people arrested during
the Persian fire festival celebrations and another 30 arrested during Persian
New Year celebrations.
Some of those arrested were trade unionists, some were attending a mixed-gender
party, some were rallying on International Women's Day, and some were simply
holding New Year celebrations. The linking factor is that these people who were
rallying together for a political reason or even holding mass celebrations pose
a threat to the Regime, which is incredibly weak.
Abuse of political prisoners
At least 5 political prisoners have been on hunger strike in March to oppose
their own mistreatment/imprisonment or that of others. The Iranian Regime's
authorities have reacted with violence, the refusal of urgent medical treatment
(medical terrorism), or even transferred them to wards where violent or
dangerous criminals are kept.
One man, Hamidreza Amini, was beaten in front of his wife and children while
handcuffed and shackled to a hospital bed, while Soheil Arabi was beaten by
prison guards and is now suspected of brain damage.
The prisons in Iran are remarkably poor, far below the minimum standards laid
out by the UN. As has been mentioned before, there are problems even getting
drinking water for the prisoners let alone food, clean quarters, and working
facilities (i.e. lights, doors).
This poses a hygiene risk and means that many prisoners are getting seriously
ill. Some are even forced to pay for fixing facilities or bottled water.
'Death row prisoners can be considered for parole'
Legal think-tank, Veritas, has said prisoners, whose death sentences have been
commuted to life in prison may also be eligible for early release on parole.
Veritas, which has been advocating for the abolition of the death penalty, said
the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruled in 2016 during the Makoni versus the
Commissioner of Prisons and another case, that prisoners on death sentences can
be considered for early release.
"Prisoners whose death sentences have been commuted may be eligible for early
release on parole," Veritas said.
"The ConCourt ruled it unconstitutional for life prisoners to be denied the
right to be considered for early release under section 115 of the Prisons Act,"
Veritas said the section (115 of the Prisons Act) has not yet been amended to
comply with the court's ruling, adding that even before such an amendment, life
prisoners must be considered for early release.
On March 10, President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed Clemency Order No 1 of 2018,
which commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment, and granting it to all
prisoners, who have been on death row for 10 years and above.
"The clemency order is a welcome step, albeit a small one, towards abolition of
the death penalty. No executions have been carried out in Zimbabwe since 2005,
so there is an effective moratorium on the death penalty, which is likely to
continue for as long as the President, known to favour abolition, remains in
office. In view of this it seems not only cruel but futile for the courts to
continue sentencing people to death," Veritas said.
On the clemency order, they said it now meant that all inmates on death row,
who were sentenced to death before March 10, 2008, no longer face execution,
but will serve life imprisonment instead.
"Section 48 of the Constitution allows a law to provide for the death penalty;
it does not say the law must do so. Hence abolition would not entail amending
the Constitution; it just needs simple Act of Parliament removing references to
the death penalty from the criminal law code and the Criminal Procedure and
Veritas have also provided the Justice minister with a draft Bill to abolish
the death penalty, which is deemed cruel, inhuman and barbaric punishment.
Apart from commuting death sentences, the clemency order benefited about 3,000
Chinese Official Given Death Sentence For Taking $166M In Bribes
The former deputy mayor of a city in North China has been handed a death
sentence by a Shanxi Province court eager to crack down on government
corruption. Zhang Zhongsheng, ex-deputy mayor of Luliang was reported by
Chinese state media to have taken bribes totaling about $166 million in
American dollars over the course of 16 years.
In a statement issued by the court, Zhang is described as having been
"extremely greedy," and it says that he "crazily took bribes from 1997 to 2013
and did not restrain himself after the 18th National Party Congress and caused
extraordinarily great losses to the nation and its people and should be
punished severely by law." The sentence is all part of a massive
anti-corruption crackdown spearheaded by President Xi and which has reportedly
netted more than a million lower-level convictions in the last 5 years.
That severe punishment is death, which is rare in China, but a couple of years
ago former Chinese lawmaker Bai Enpei was given a death sentence for a similar
corruption case. This sentence was eventually changed to one of life
imprisonment, which is "the standard practice for most such sentences"
according to a report from the Xinhua news agency. So he still has some hope of
not actually being executed by the state, since he can still appeal the
verdict, and all death penalty sentences have to be ultimately approved by the
supreme court in Beijing, as per the South China Morning Post.
As for Zhang, he was indeed taking in a staggering amount of cash bribes,
averaging out to roughly $30,000 per day for the aforementioned 16 years. And
he did it while living and working in the impoverished region of Lvliang,
accepting gifts in exchange for deferential treatment in project approvals and
distribution of coal resources, coal being the main industry in Shangxi.
Solon: Death sentence vs. employers of slain OFW just 'paper victory'
While most welcomed the decision of a Kuwaiti court to impose death penalty on
the employers of slain overseas Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis, a lawmaker
remained skeptical on the ruling.
"I didn't rejoice, because first of all, there is no jurisdiction over the
suspect because he was never arraigned, although we have different justice
systems," Rep. Aniceto Bertiz of the ACTS-OFW Party-list said.
Bertiz also said information on the whereabouts of Lebanese Nader Essam Assaf
and his Syrian wife Mona Hassoun all came from Kuwaiti officials, and
Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa.
"For the past several months now, since the imposition of the ban, (we hear)
only the side of Ambassador Villa who is in Kuwait. Why did we not hear
anything from the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) coming directly from our
post in Lebanon?" he asked.
The lawmaker then said that it would not be possible for Kuwait to carry out
the sentence against Assaf soon, until the Lebanese government decides he is
"If it's really true that the killer is in the custody of Lebanon, it can only
be imposed or implemented if both countries will agree to extradite the
suspect, pero until then, para bang, it is just a paper victory," Bertiz said.
He also said the sentence felt like it was just to appease President Rodrigo
Duterte, after he ordered the total deployment ban to Kuwait.
"Although we really appreciate the decision of Kuwait because it is sweet and
swift justice for Demafelis, para bang kinakalma 'yung isipan ng tao [it feels
like it's to pacify] because of this crisis going on," he said.
The lawmaker also noted the Philippines should not lift the ban anytime soon.
"Partial-lift we can consider for those skilled workers, but definitely if
Kuwait government is just doing this for their self-interest so that we can
send workers again to the country, I think this is really not a good gesture,"
Bertiz said there should be a task force monitoring Demafelis' case - which
would involve the DFA, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the
International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in the Philippines.
Interpol-Lebanon earlier released the details on Assaf being under Lebanese
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevara said Tuesday that Duterte has
ordered DFA, through the official mission to Kuwait, to verify reports that
Assaf will face death penalty.
Assaf and his Syrian wife Mona were found guilty of murder in the death of
29-year-old Demafelis, according to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello. Her body
was found inside a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait, where it may have been
kept for over a year.
Capital Punishment, Human Rights, and Indonesia's Chance for the Moral High
Ground----The execution of Indonesian migrant workers highlights the need for
new protections, both abroad and at home.
On Sunday March 18, Saudi Arabian authorities beheaded Indonesian migrant
worker Zaini Misrin without providing diplomatic notice to the relevant
The execution was carried out undeterred by repeated requests from Indonesian
President Joko Widodo for clemency. Zaini was executed in spite of strong
evidence suggesting he was coerced into confessing to killing his employer and
that his own translator was complicit in this coercion.
There are fears that more Indonesian migrant workers may be executed in Saudi
Arabia. While a large number of Indonesian citizens are on death row in Saudi
Arabia, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated there are 2
specific cases involving Indonesian female migrant workers that have been
listed as critical.
Zaini is not the 1st Indonesian to be beheaded in the Gulf state. In 2011, the
execution of an Indonesian migrant worker prompted Indonesia to recall its
ambassador and to begin a moratorium halting the placement of Indonesian
migrant workers in the informal sector in Saudi Arabia. In 2015, the execution
of 2 mentally ill Indonesian women migrant domestic workers prompted the
Indonesian government to extend the moratorium to 21, mainly Middle Eastern,
Despite the moratoriums, which have been widely criticized by migrant rights
organizations for being a reactionary move that violates a number of human
rights, thousands of Indonesians continue to be employed in Saudi Arabia as
domestic workers, migrating through irregular channels and living without any
of the legal and social protections that documented migrant workers enjoy.
The latest beheading sparked waves of protest within Indonesia and across the
globe. Swathes of outraged activists have called the execution a blatant
violation of human rights. The framing of the capital punishment as a human
rights violation, however, is made difficult by the fact that none of the core
international human rights treaties explicitly forbid capital punishment.
The use of the death penalty is only forbidden in an Optional Protocol of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and this optional
protocol, with only 85 state parties, has not come close to achieving universal
ratification. In spite of a number of nonbinding resolutions issued by the
United Nations General Assembly calling for its abolition, capital punishment
continues to largely be understood as a legally permissible exception to the
right to life.
The United Nations Convention Against Torture is one of the few human rights
treaties that Saudi Arabia has ratified. Although the committee that implements
the convention has been notably inconsistent in its stance on the death
penalty, the committee in its 2016 concluding observations on the report of
Saudi Arabia encouraged the state to establish a moratorium on executions and
to commute all existing death sentences. With 20 Indonesian citizens currently
on death row in Saudi Arabia, Jakarta has a vested interest in seeing the
recommendations of the committee implemented.
Indonesia fights tirelessly to secure clemency for its citizens facing the
death penalty abroad through diplomatic negotiations, legal channels, and even
by paying blood money or ransoms where possible. Domestically, however,
Indonesia continues to implement capital punishment, executing Indonesian and
foreign citizens alike and defending its right to do so with arguments of
During the 2017 Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, where Indonesia's human
rights track record was reviewed by 103 states, capital punishment was the main
human rights issue that came into the spotlight with 30 individual states
recommending Indonesia abolish the death penalty or place a moratorium on its
The Indonesian National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan)
contends the Indonesian government is losing the moral justification to protect
its citizens on death row abroad when the state continues to carry out
executions at home. The results of extensive monitoring carried out by Komnas
Perempuan regarding women facing the death penalty revealed that the majority
of women on death row are victims of gender-based violence and that female
domestic workers are targeted by international drug smuggling and human
trafficking syndicates, unknowingly made into drug mules by perpetrators who
exploit the women's layered vulnerabilities.
An important finding of the Commission shows that the death penalty and the
extensive periods of time that people spend on death row in Indonesia have
economic, physical, and psychological effects on the convicted person and their
families that are torturous and inhumane. These findings of the Commission are
in line with the statement of the Committee Against Torture that prolonged time
on death row could amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
Komnas Perempuan notes that currently in Indonesia there are a number of former
women migrant workers who have been sentenced to death despite indications that
they are victims of human trafficking. Filipino national Mary Jane Veloso and
Indonesian Merry Utami, imprisoned in 2010 and 2001 respectively, are 2 women
currently on death row in Indonesia. Both of these women are former migrant
workers and they are both indicated to be victims of human trafficking whose
progress through the judicial system has been markedly unjust.
The commissioner of Komnas Perempuan's Migrant Worker Task Force, Thaufik
Zulbahary, explained, "Migrant workers, especially women migrant domestic
workers are one of the most vulnerable groups in society ... they are prone to
experiencing human rights violations at every stage of migration." To
effectively work at reducing these vulnerabilities and improving outcomes for
migrant workers, international advocacy - including pushing for global
ratification of the Convention on Migrant Workers - must be accompanied by
grassroots initiatives aimed at improving the fulfillment of migrant workers'
One such grass roots initiative is TKI Bijak, a program that is operating in
West Java, Indonesia, disseminating information to prospective migrant workers
about proper recruitment procedures and practical information regarding
destination countries and human rights concerns for each respective country.
Through initiatives like this, prospective migrant workers are equipped with
the means to make educated decisions about their deployment and the risk of
human rights violations are minimized.
On the international stage it is essential that the discourse surrounding the
death penalty stops focusing on capital punishment as an issue of state
sovereignty and a legitimate exception on the right to life. The various
international human rights mechanisms and treaty bodies, especially the
Committee Against Torture, have the responsibility to take a stronger stance in
opposing the death penalty and take the lead in shifting the international
discourse to focus on the right to life as the ultimate, nonderogable human
right that transcends notions of sovereignty.
While the international community slowly works toward global abolition of
capital punishment, states should at a minimum observe the Safeguards
guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. This
document, published by the Economic and Social Council in a 1984 resolution,
states in the 4th and 5th points that capital punishment may be imposed only
when the guilt of the person charged is based upon clear and convincing
evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts. The
safeguard further states that capital punishment may only be imposed pursuant
to a final judgement rendered by a competent court after legal process that
gives all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial, including adequate legal
assistance at all stages of the proceedings.
It is estimated that there are around 4.5 million Indonesian migrant workers
currently working overseas. As a country that prides itself on endeavoring to
provide the highest possible protections for its citizens abroad, Indonesia in
a purely pragmatic sense has a vested interest in leading by example and
looking to abolish the death penalty or at the very least commute the death
sentence for victims who are indicated to be victims of human trafficking or
have been denied a fair trial. The domestic cessation of the implementation of
capital punishment is an important first step that will give added legitimacy
to Indonesia's attempts to seek clemency for its citizens on death row abroad.
(source: Jack Britton is a translator, researcher, and writer currently
embedded with the Indonesian National Commission on Violence against Women
(Komnas Perempuan) in Jakarta, Indonesia----the diplomat.com)
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