U.N. agency condemns Iran’s execution of child offender


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Dec. 31 (UPI) — The United Nations Human Rights Office condemned the execution of an Iranian man Thursday for a crime allegedly committed when he was 16 years old.

Mohammad Hassan Rezaiee was executed in Iran in the early morning even though execution of child offenders is strictly prohibited under international law. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said the execution was the fourth confirmed for a child offender.

“The UN has repeatedly urged Iran to cease the appalling practice of executing child offenders, but we understand that at least 80 child offenders remain on death row,” Shamdasani said in a statement. “The High Commissioner urges Iranian authorities to halt all executions of child offenders and immediately review their cases in line with international human rights law.”

Rezaiee, who turned 30 this month, was arrested in 2007 at age 16 in connection with a group fight where a man was fatally stabbed. Human rights groups allege violations of his right to a fair trial and torture.

His conviction was based on “confessions” extracted under torture, his trial was “grossly unfair” and authorities failed to investigate the torture allegations, Amnesty International Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Diana Eltahawy said in a statement earlier this month.

“Despite his young age, the authorities held him in prolonged solitary confinement, without access to his family and lawyer,” Eltahawy’s statement said. “They repeatedly tortured him to ‘confess,’ including by beating him with sticks, kicking and punching him, and whipping him with pipe hoses. In 2008, the trial court relied on his forced ‘confessions’ to convict and sentence him to death — even though he retracted his ‘confessions’ at trial and said they were given under torture.”

Shamdasani said that along with the “deeply troubling allegations” Rezaiee was forced to confess through torture, there were numerous other serious concerns about violations of his fair trial rights, and failure to pursue legal avenues to grant Rezaiee a retrial.

On Wednesday, United Nations experts urged members states to condemn a separate violation of international law in the United States. The U.N. experts said President Donald Trump’s pardon last week of four former Blackwater Worldwide military contractors convicted of killing 14 Iraqis in 2007 violates U.S. obligations under international law. They urged member states to condemn the presidential action.