Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Fardin Ja'farian

About

Age: 18
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown

Case

Date of Killing: October 18, 2014
Location of Killing: Tabriz Prison, Tabriz, Azarbaijan-e Sharqi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of offense: 14

About this Case

An acquaintance explained that at the age of 14, Mr. Ja'farian's negligence had led to the death of a friend. There was no malice in his act.

News of the execution of Mr. Fardin Ja’farian was published on the websites of Breathing in Confinement on October 18, 2014, HRANA (Human Rights Activists News Agency) on October 19, 2014, Iranwire on November 20, 2014, and Radio Zamaneh on August 5, 2015. According to HRANA, this case was related to murdering his friend in 2010 when Mr. Ja’farian was only 14 years old. He was from Azerbaijan, an athlete with achievements in Taekwondo.  

International laws have strictly prohibited capital punishment against those who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime. As a party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has the obligation to avoid capital punishment for an offence committed before the age of eighteen.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Ja’farian was detained for 4 years until he reached 18. The circumstances of his arrest and detention are not known.

Trial

No information is available on Mr. Ja’farian’s trial.

Charges

The charge brought against Mr. Ja’farian was announced as “murder.”   

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political, civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Each year Iranian authorities sentence to death hundreds of alleged common criminals, following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. The exact number of people convicted and executed based on trumped-up charges is unknown.  

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution did not provide any specific information on the evidence presented against Mr. Ja’farian.

Defense

According to HRANA, quoting a person close to Mr. Ja’farian, he was a 14-year-old adolescent who had killed his friend out of negligence (without malice). No information is available on his defense.

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Fardin Jafarian’s Case

According to certain reports, Fardin Jafarian committed the crime of murder at the age of 14. Pursuant to Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, the age of criminal responsibility is when an individual reaches puberty. Considering that by law boys are supposed to reach puberty at the age of 15, if the reports of Fardin Jafarian’s age at the time of commission of murder are accurate, then this young person’s execution was completely against the law. Furthermore, if Fardin Jafarian’s age at the time of commission of murder was between 15 and 18, investigations should have been conducted as to his mental development. By way of explanation, Fardin Jafarian was executed on October 18, 2014, when the new Islamic Penal Code had already been passed (April 2013) and was in force. Pursuant to the previous Islamic Penal Code which was in force at the time of the commission of the crime, the punishment for young adults (that is, boys) who have reached the age of 15, was no different than the one for adults. The Islamic Penal Code was changed, however, on April 21, 2013, and prescribed different rules for crimes committed by individuals under the age of 18. Although the new Code provides the same punishment for crimes that are subject to Hadd and Qesas for adults as well as for individuals under 18 who have attained puberty, if the individual under the age of 18 is not aware of the nature of the crime, and there is doubt as to his maturity, the punishment will be dropped and changed to incarceration and educational actions. Pursuant to Islamic Penal Code Article 91 “In crimes requiring Hadd or Qesas, if the individuals under the age of 18 who have attained puberty cannot comprehend the nature of the crime or the prohibition thereof, or if there is doubt as to their mental development [and capacity] and maturity, they will be sentenced to the punishments prescribed in this chapter on a case by case basis. Note: In order to ascertain mental development and maturity, the court may obtain the medical examiner’s opinion, or utilize any other method it deems appropriate.” This provision paved the way for exemption from the death penalty for criminals under 18. Since most killings committed by individuals under the age of 18 are heat of the moment murders, and usually at that age, an individual has not reached the level of maturity to comprehend the nature of his actions, this provision can practically save criminals under 18 from the death penalty. According to an established legal principle, in the event that the subsequent law is more lenient to an accused or a convicted criminal than the prior law, the subsequent law will be applied even though a final judgment has been rendered. On that basis, the new law must apply to individuals under the age of 18 who have attained puberty and have been tried and sentenced to death while the previous law was still in force, and such individuals must be able to take action under Article 91 in order to avoid the death penalty. In practice too, courts viewed Article 91 as applying to those having a final death sentence. In fact, in December 2014, the Supreme Court General Council issued a Uniform Procedure Decision regarding the manner of Article 91’s applicability to individuals under the age of 18 who have attained puberty. Although this Uniform Procedure Decision was issued a few months after Fardin Jafarian’s execution, courts regarded Article 91 as applying to individuals under 18 sentenced to death prior to its issuance as well; the difference of opinion was a procedural one and dealt with the manner of adjudication. Fardin Jafarian was executed when he could have asked for renewed adjudication based on this Article. It appears that judicial authorities deprived Fardin Jafarian of the opportunity to apply this article. 

Judgment

The court condemned Mr. Fardin Ja’farian to death. He was hanged in the presence of the victim’s family at the Tabriz Central Prison yard on October 18, 2014. 

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