GENEVA, Switzerland — United Nations rights experts accused Iran of violating international law on Tuesday for executing a prisoner who was just 17 years old when he committed a crime.
Shayan Saeedpour, alleged to have committed murder in August 2015, was hanged on Tuesday, United Nations special rapporteurs Javaid Rehman and Agnes Callamard in a statement.
He was convicted and sentenced to death in October 2018, the Supreme Court confirming the sentence in February 2019.
“We are shocked that the Iranian authorities have once again defied their international obligations by executing a child offender,” the UN experts said.
“We have repeatedly reminded the Iranian government and judiciary that international human rights law is clear: the application of the death penalty to child offenders is strictly prohibited and its practice is an egregious violation of the right to life.”
Rehman is the special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, while Callamard is the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The independent experts do not speak for the UN but report their findings to the world body.
‘Vengeful and cruel’
They said the state prosecutor reportedly pressured the family of the murder victim to request the application of the death penalty.
Under Iranian law, they can either choose capital punishment or accept blood money and pardon the offender, the experts said.
“We are appalled that in this case Iranian officials allegedly promoted the application of the death penalty to a child offender,” they said.
The pair said the move may have been prompted by Saeedpour escaping from prison during protests on March 27 concerning the new coronavirus pandemic.
Iran is among the world’s hardest-hit countries in the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting 5,297 deaths.
It has temporarily released some 100,000 prisoners, or around 40 percent of its entire prison population, in several stages since March to reduce crowding.
Human rights group Amnesty International said Saeedpour was convicted in connection with the fatal stabbing of a man during a fight.
His execution was “vengeful and cruel”, said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for the Middle East.
“The use of the death penalty against Shayan — a child with a long history of mental illness — was strictly prohibited.
“This is abhorrent and must stop.”
Amnesty claimed there were at least 90 juvenile offenders on death row in Iran.