Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Date: 3 April 2020
Returning to Iran, we are horrified at the death of a juvenile offender after he was reportedly badly beaten by security officers.
According to information we have received, Daniel Zeinolabedini was put in solitary confinement and beaten by security officers in Mahabad prison in Orumiyeh city in West Azerbaijan Province after a riot erupted on 28 March. Prisoners were protesting at prison conditions and the failure of the authorities to temporarily release them amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was then reportedly transferred to Miandoab prison, also in West Azerbaijan province, where he suffered further ill-treatment at the hands of prison officials.
His family said he called them on 31 March to tell them he had been badly beaten, could hardly breathe and desperately needed help. His death was confirmed on 2 April.
We are particularly shocked as Zeinolabedini was on death row for a crime he allegedly committed in September 2017 at the age of 17. His murder conviction and death sentence were upheld by Iran's Supreme Court in October 2018. He continued to profess his innocence. As we have repeatedly said, the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by people below the age of 18 at the time of the offence is strictly prohibited under international human rights law and such sentences should be immediately quashed.
We remind Iran of its heightened duty to protect the lives of individuals in detention. We call on the Iranian authorities to immediately conduct an independent and impartial investigation into Zeinolabedini's death and hold those responsible to account.
We are also concerned at the fate of six other people who were also reportedly beaten during the riot on 28 March and taken to Miandoab prison. We urge the Iranian authorities to take all measures to protect their lives.
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