October 14, 2016

Iranian Kurdistan: Child Bride Faces Death Penalty

Photo Courtesy of Rudaw

Zeinab Sekaanvand Lokran, an Iranian child bride sentenced to death in 2014, faces imminent execution as early as 13 October 2016. She was 17 at the time of arrest, charged with killing her abusive husband whom she married at 15 and submitted her to years of physical and verbal abuse whilst refusing her requests for divorce. Amnesty International states that her death sentence breaches Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which forbid the imposition of the death sentence on people under the age of 18. This case is part of a worrying trend taking place Iran, which has one of the highest numbers of executions of juvenile offenders in the world. 

 

Below is an article published by Rudaw:

An Iranian Kurdish child bride who is accused of killing her abusive husband faces “imminent execution” as early as October 13, though she was only 17 when she reportedly committed the crime.

Zeinab Sekaanvand Lokran, who is now 22, was sentenced to death in 2014 by an Iranian court. 

She was arrested in 2012 at a police station in Western Azerbaijan and charged with killing her husband to whom she was married since the age of 15. 

She initially “confessed” that she stabbed her husband after he had subjected her to months of physical and verbal abuse and had refused her requests for divorce.

She did not have legal representation at the time.

Amnesty International, which has launched a campaign to save her life, reported that Zeinab Sekaanvand was kept for 20 days at the police station where she faced torture at the hands of male police officers.

When Zeinab Sekaanvand was provided with a state-appointed lawyer at the final court hearing of her case, she retracted her confession and instead claimed that her husband’s brother was the murderer, whom she said had raped her several times.

She said she took responsibility for the murder when he had promised he would pardon her. According to Iranian Islamic law, the victim’s blood relatives can decide to accept financial compensation instead of demanding the execution of the guilty party. 

But the court failed to investigate her later statement, the rights organizations reported, and instead relied on her previous confession.

Zeinab Sekaanvand, who comes from an impoverished and culturally conservative family, ran away from home at the age of 15 to marry Hossein Sarmadi. 

She said she saw the marriage as the only opportunity for a better life. When the marriage fell apart, she tried to go back to her own family. But her family refused to accept her and she was subsequently disowned.

Amnesty International said the court also failed to treat her as a juvenile and instead tried her as an adult following a “mental growth and maturity” test. 

Zeinab Sekaanvand married a fellow prisoner while in prison and became pregnant. The authorities delayed her death sentence as a result.

She gave birth to a stillborn baby in a hospital outside the prison. Doctors said her baby had died in her womb two days earlier due to shock, around the same time as the execution of her cellmate. 

She was denied both prenatal and postnatal care, and was returned back to prison just one day after the birth.

The rights organizations said Zeinab Sekaanvand’s death sentence breaches Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which strictly prohibit the imposition of death sentences on people under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.

Amnesty International has recorded at least 74 executions of juvenile offenders between 2005 and 2016 in Iran.

According to the UN, at least 160 juvenile offenders are now on death row in Iran.