Head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani. File photo: Mehr news agency
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran has promised a “serious reaction” to the United States’ decision to sanction the country’s top judge, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, a man accused of personally signing off on many executions and corporal punishment sentences.
“As head of Iran's Judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani has administrative oversight over the carrying out of sentences in contravention of Iran's international obligations, including the execution of individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime and the torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in Iran, including amputations,” the US Treasury stated on Friday, announcing the new sanctions
on fourteen individuals and entities in or connected to Iran.
Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the move “crossed all the red lines of conduct in the international community and is an act contrary to the principles of international law and a breach of the United States' bilateral and international obligations.”
Accusing US President Donald Trump of “dirty racist expressions,” referring to the global uproar this week over Trump reportedly using derogatory language when referring to Haiti and African nations, the Iranian ministry said the “hostile and illegal” sanctioning of Larijani “will surely be answered by a serious reaction from the Islamic Republic.”
Larijani, 56, was born in Iraq’s holy Shia city Najaf to Iranian parents. He was appointed head of the judiciary in 2009 by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In the role, he is required to sign off on every sentence of death, flogging, or amputation.
“In this regard, he has personally signed off numerous death penalty sentences contravening international standards, including stoning… execution of juveniles, public executions… amputations and the dripping of acid into the eyes of the convicted,” the European Union stated in 2012 when slapping sanctions on him.
The EU noted at the time that, since Larijani assumed the post of top judge, “arbitrary arrests of political prisoners, human rights defenders and minorities have increased markedly.”
Larijani has said in the past that allegations Iran executes youth under the age of 18 is a “complete lie.” Rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, however, have documented numerous cases of death sentences for young offenders.
“Scores of children are believed to be on death row in Iran,” Human Rights Watch stated in 2016.
Last October, Amnesty International stated it has recorded executions of 85 youth in Iran between 2005 and 2017 and has identified 95 currently on death row for crimes committed when they were children.
While Iran routinely has one of the highest numbers of executions globally, the parliament approved new regulations in October that would lift the death penalty for minor drug crimes. This week, Iranian media reported Larijani ordered officials to “quickly” review cases that would be affected by the new regulations and implement the changes.