Iran’s regime must reform its laws that allows girls as young as nine to be executed for crimes or forced marriage with much older husbands, a United Nations watchdog said on Thursday.
Iran continues to execute children and youth who committed a crime while under 18 years of age, in violation of international standards, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said, after its 18 independent experts reviewed Iran and 13 other countries.
The age of criminal responsibility in Iran is discriminatory, it is lower and lower for girls, that is to say 9 lunar years while for boys it is 15. At nine a girl can marry, even if the law sets the age at 13,” said Hynd Ayoubi Idrissi, a panel member.
Nine lunar years in the Iranian calendar is equivalent to 8 years and nine months, a U.N. spokeswoman said.
The age for boys having criminal responsibility is 15, but the age for girls at 9 is “extremely low”, Idrissi said.
“The Committee is seriously concerned about the reports of increasing numbers of girls at the age of 10 years or younger who are subjected to child and forced marriages to much older men.” Girls suffered discrimination in the family, in the criminal justice system, in property rights, and elsewhere, while a legal obligation for girls to be subject to male guardianship is “incompatible” with Tehran’s treaty obligations, the panel said.
The concluding observations by U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child states:
“The Committee is concerned at the reports that content-based offenses such as “propaganda against the state” or “insulting Islam” are not clearly defined and interpreted and can incur prison terms, flogging, and even death sentences, thus limiting the right of children to freedom of expression. It is also concerned about the broad interpretation of offences such as “membership in an illegal organization” and “participation in an illegal gathering” infringing the right of children to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.”
“The Committee recommends that the State party take necessary measures to ensure full respect for children’s right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and that these rights are not subjected to undue and vague limitations but that restrictions to these rights comply with international standards. The Committee urges the State party to review its legislation in order to ensure that children under the age of 18 years are exempt from criminal responsibility for such content-based offences.”
“The Committee remains concerned about the continuous discrimination against members of religious minority groups, especially those that are not recognized” the Iranian regime, and “the Committee is also concerned that the hijab requirement on girls as young as 7 years of age irrespective of their religious affiliation constitutes a serious breach of article 14 of the Convention.”
“The Committee is concerned about widespread censorship of information, stipulated by laws regulating press and internet, which undermine the right of children to access information. The Committee is also concerned that any information, including harmless information, can be restricted in the name of national security without justification.”
“the Committee remains seriously concerned that this Code retains the punishment of children who reached the legal age of criminal responsibility (9 lunar years for girls and 15 years for boys) for crimes under the categories of Hudud and Qisas with sentences involving torture or cruel, degrading treatment or punishment, which has been and continue to be applied to children.”
“The Committee is seriously concerned about the discriminatory treatment of men and women, including married girls below the age of 18 years.”
“The Committee is concerned about the high levels of poverty in certain underdeveloped regions. In particular, it is concerned about poor living conditions in regions traditionally inhabited by ethnic minorities, in some cases completely lacking basic services such as electricity, plumbing, sewage systems, public transport, medical facilities or schools, which have a direct negative impact on the rights of children living in those regions.”
“The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to further reduce poverty and extreme poverty, in particular in provinces populated by ethnic minorities, such as Sistan and Baluchestan, Khuzestan and Kurdistan.”
“The Committee remains concerned about the ongoing issue of trafficking and sale of persons under the age of 18 years, particularly young girls from rural areas, facilitated by “temporary marriages” or “sideq” as well as trafficking of girls from Afghanistan to Iran.”