UNICEF is an organization which aims to help children around the world, also by creating a special awareness to the problems of education, malnutrition and medicine, especially in third world countries.
Last month, Mohammad Khazayee, permanent ambassador to the United Nations on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was appointed as a member of the Executive Board of UNICEF. This is the governing body of the Fund, which oversees its operations and gives it inter-governmental aid. Among other things, its role is to approve the organization’s policies and review its activities. Mohamed Monir Safieddin, Iran’s representative to UNICEF, exulted that “the Iranian judiciary’s cooperation with the UNICEF is unique in the region,” and noted “a special legal workshop” for children, held in the city of Sari, north of the Islamic Republic. He also remarked that in some Muslim countries (“unlike Iran”), the rate of children who are in prison is of 50 percent. Moreover, he argued that UNICEF itself is eager to learn from Iran’s specialization “in the field of hygiene.” Execution of minors, it should be noted, is prohibited under international law and conventions. Surprisingly, or not,Iran signed and ratified them.
In the Islamic Republic, capital crimes include adultery, apostasy, lesbianism, drug trafficking, rape, murder and others. Moreover, Iranian law includes a unique offence (Moharebeh), which is also punishable by death. Its uniqueness is in the judge’s ability to interpret and apply it to varied acts, from “undermining Islamic rule” to “cooperating with a foreign agent .” Under that offence, Iran has executed human rights activists, political opposition members, and ethnic minorities. The Iranian judiciary system abounds with mechanisms dedicated to strip the concept of Due Process of its meaning, so that in many cases the verdict is decided before the testimony of the defendant has been heard. For women, the situation is even gloomier; a woman’s testimony is worth half a man’s testimony. Needless to say, there is not even a single woman in Iran who serves as a judge.
Khazayee’s election to the governing body of UNICEF is a moral scandal. Iran, as reported frequently by international organizations, executes more people than any other country in the world, per capita. In 2011, 676 people were executed in Iran. During the first half of January that year, 47 prisoners were hanged; that is, an average of a prisoner every eight hours. In 2012, 480 people were executed, 12 women included. Fifty-five executions were held in public.
In the past eight years Iran has executed 43 minors; according to Amnesty International’s publication, all of them were under 18 when they allegedly committed the offense. According to the Iranian codex, children become legally culpable for their crimes at age 9 for girls and 15 for boys. When the offense is committed at that age, the child is sent to prison until their neck fits the hangman’s rope, that is, until the age of 18 or even younger.
Iran’s preferred method of execution uses large cranes: the condemned is hung on a hook attached to the end of the lever. Women, on the other hand, are not as “lucky.” Iranian law stipulates that the deserved death for them (in most cases) is by stoning; they are buried in the ground up to the bust line, though “stones must not be too large so they will not kill quickly.” In many cases, children come to witness the execution; in others, they even drop the chair from under the feet of the executed.
The latest report written by the UN special envoy to examine the human rights situation in Iran indicates that 100 minors are currently awaiting execution. It is hard to think of a more Kafkaesque grotesque than the election of Iran’s Ambassador as a member of the executive board of UNICEF, an organization created to protect children’s rights. The moral degeneration that characterizes the United Nations – the same degeneration that allows the predominance of dictatorships in the Human Rights Council and other international organizations – should disturb the sleep of anyone who sees human liberty as one of the most important achievements of Western culture.