Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Majid Esma'ilzadeh


Age: 21
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: April 18, 2020
Location of Killing: Central Prison, Ardebil, Ardebil Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of alleged offense: 16

About this Case

News of the execution of Majid Esma’ilzadeh was published by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Human Rights Activists (HRANA) on April 18, 2020. As of three weeks following the execution, news of his hanging had yet to be reported by either Iranian officials or state-sponsored news sources.

Majid Esma'ilzadeh was born on September 1, 1998, and his father was a laborer of limited financial means.

International laws have strictly prohibited capital punishment for those who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing a crime. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has the obligation not to impose capital punishment for an offence committed before the age of eighteen.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Esma’ilzadeh was arrested on April 26, 2015. His father said he reported being beaten with batons while in custody, and that his whole body was “black and blue.”


Mr. Esma’ilzadeh was tried in Branch 1 of Ardabil Children’s court and assigned a public defender.


Mr. Esma’ilzadeh was charged with intentional murder.

He was charged to have killed a 45-year-old man.

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 does not contain information on the evidence provided against the defendant, however his father refers to a confession.

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress.


Mr. Esma’ilzadeh’s father continues to profess his son’s innocence, stating that his son was tortured into giving a false confession.

Mr. Esma’ilzadeh was a minor at the time of the alleged offense (16). Under Article 91 of the Islamic Penal code, in force since 2013, judges can spare minor defendants who would otherwise be subject to harsh sentences by hadd or qesas when evidence casts doubt on their ability to comprehend the nature or impact of the crime. To this end, based on available information, Mr. Esma’ilzadeh was evaluated twice by an expert, but nothing more is known about the results.

Mr. Esma’ilzadeh’s poverty barred him access to adequate legal services. His father stated that the public defender assigned to him was ineffective. “Every time I went to court [for my son’s case], they told me to bug off,” he told IHR. “I called [the public defender] a thousand times and never heard back from him once.”

Speaking to the crime itself, Mr. Esma’ilzadeh’s father stated that a coroner at the time reported the victim’s cause of death not as homicide, but as injuries incurred from a car accident: he said that the alleged murder victim had gone off with his son to a secluded area after offering him money in exchange for sexual favors. After the two had consumed some alcohol, the man fell asleep while Mr. Esma’ilzadeh returned home. At this point, his father explained, the man woke up and wandered into the road in a drunken state, where he was struck and killed by a car. “It’s been five years and they still haven’t given us the [coroner’s] report,” Mr. Esma’ilzadeh’s father said. 


Branch 1 of Ardabil Children’s court sentenced Majid Esma’ilzadeh to death. Majid Esma;ilzadeh was hanged in the Central Prison of Ardebil on April 18, 2020.

To IHR, his father lamented being summoned by prison officials at the eleventh hour for their final goodbyes: “Just like that, I get a call from them telling me to come see my son!”

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