The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan,The United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, Louise Arbour,The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, and The Head of the Judiciary of IRI Ayatollah Mahmoud Has
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We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned for 18-year-old Nazanin who faces execution by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
On January 3, 2006, 18-year-old Nazanin was sentenced to death for murder by court in Iran after she reportedly admitted fatally stabbing one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 16-year-old niece in a park in Karaj (a suburb of Tehran) in March 2005. She was seventeen at the time. Her sentence is subject to review by the Court of Appeal, and if upheld, to confirmation by the Supreme Court.
According to reports in the Iranian newspaper Etemaad, Nazanin told the court that three men had approached her and her niece, forced them to the ground and attempted to rape them. Seeking to defend her niece and herself, Nazanin stabbed one man in the hand with a knife that she possessed. As the men continued their attack, she stabbed another of the men in the chest, which eventually caused his death. She reportedly told the court I wanted to defend myself and my niece. I did not want to kill that boy. At the heat of the moment I did not know what to do because no one came to our help. She was nevertheless sentenced to the maximum punishment possible under the law, death by hanging.
Urgent action is needed to help save a young life whose only crime was an attempt to defend herself. Nazanin and many like her are caught between two undesirable options. On one hand, Iranian Penal Code severely limits the possibility of using self-defense as a legitimate defence to aggression. On the other hand, if Nazanin had allowed the rape to take place, she could still be imprisoned, flogged or stoned for having sex outside of marriage unless four male witnesses to the actual rape would testify on her behalf.
Moreover, Iran is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and is therefore under obligation NOT to impose the death penalty on those under the age of 18. Nevertheless, Amnesty International has recorded 18 executions of child offenders in Iran since 1990. In 2005 alone, at least eight executions of child offenders were recorded. Nazanin was 17 years old at the time of commission of the offense and therefore Iran is in breach.
We urge that the death sentence imposed on Nazanin be commuted immediately;
We urge the authorities to carry out a thorough review of the case, in particular the limits of self-defense as detailed in the Iranian Penal Code;
We urge the authorities to ensure that the victims family is made aware of its right, under Islamic law, to request a pardon of the condemned;
We appeal to the Islamic Republic of Iran to honor its commitment to the ICCPR and ICC, to which they are a state party.