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GENEVA (22 April) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday condemned the second execution of a child offender in the space of just four days by the Iranian authorities.
Shayan Saeedpour is reported to have been executed in Saqez prison in Kurdistan Province on Tuesday 21 April. He had been sentenced to death for a crime allegedly committed when he was under 18, following a judicial process that appears to have been deeply flawed. Mr. Saeedpour was among some 80 prisoners who escaped from Saqez prison following a protest against prison conditions on 27 March amid the COVID-19 outbreak. He was rearrested on or around 3 April.
Last Saturday, 18 April, Majid Esmailzadeh was also reportedly executed in Ardabil prison in Ardabil Province. He was arrested in 2012, and convicted on a charge of murder allegedly committed when he was under 18.
The death of a third person, Danial Zeinolabedini, also sentenced to death despite being under 18 at the time of the offence, was confirmed on 2 April after he was beaten by
officials in Miandoab prison in West Azerbaijan Province. He had been transferred there along with other prisoners who had rioted in Mahabad prison on 28 March in protest at prison conditions and the failure of the authorities to temporarily release them amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The executions of these two child offenders are absolutely prohibited under international human rights law,” the High Commissioner said. “Numerous United Nations bodies and experts have made it clear time and time again that 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.”
“Despite repeated interventions and engagement by my own Office with the Government of Iran on this issue, the sentencing and executions of child offenders continue,” Bachelet said. “This is both regrettable and, given the clear illegality of these actions, reprehensible. I repeat my call on Iranian authorities to honour its international human rights obligations, immediately halt all executions of juvenile offenders and commute all such death sentences.”
“In addition,” she said, “the beating to death of Danial Zeinolabedini, while in State custody, is a grievous violation of the right to life under international human rights law.”
Bachelet reminded the Iranian authorities that the UN Human Rights Office had requested them to immediately conduct an independent and impartial investigation into Zeinolabedini's death and hold those responsible to account.
“The fact that two of these child offenders who have lost their lives in the past three weeks had been involved in protests driven by fear of the spread of COVID-19 in places of detention raises grave concerns about the possibility of expedited executions of other death-row prisoners who were involved in those protests,” Bachelet said.
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