Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rep. Lantos Deplores Iran's Killing of Gays

Subj: Lantos on Iranian youths' execution
Date: 7/28/2005 1:41:58 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

July 27, 2005
Contact: Lynne Weil, 202-225-6735

Recent Iranian Executions of Minors and Juvenile Offenders Show Utter Disregard For International Legal Norms and Bigotry, Lantos Says

Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos, the ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, today decried the public flogging and hanging of two Iranian youths as gross violations of Iran’s obligations under international law and disturbing signs of continued bias against homosexuals in Iran.

“This sickening episode shines a bright light on the severe shortcomings of the Iranian legal system,” Lantos said. “No matter what legal sources or traditions a country bases its law upon, there is no justification for whipping and executing people amid an angry mob – particularly not when the convicts committed offenses while they were minors, who are specifically protected under international law. And in this case, authorities apparently chose to play on deep-seated feelings of bigotry toward homosexuality, which can carry the death penalty in Iran.”

Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were convicted last year of theft, drunkenness and a sexual assault on a 13-year-old boy. They had spent 14 months in prison when their appeal was denied last week; they were each then lashed 228 times in public, and left in the hands of a mob that ended up hanging them. Asgari was 16 and Marhoni 18 when they died.

Lantos, the founding co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, said, “I call on the new Iranian government to immediately announce a moratorium on all executions involving minors or homosexuality, to strictly abide by Iran’s international obligations, and finally to pass long-overdue legislation that abolishes the death penalty for minors.”

Iran is party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which obligates members not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under age 18. In addition, the public nature and extent of the flogging raises serious issues under customary international law, as reflected by the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

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