UN experts urge Iran to halt execution of man convicted of killing as minor

Hossein Shahbazi, 20, stabbed a classmate to death during a fight when he was 17; his execution would violate international human rights law, four UN experts say

Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

GENEVA, Switzerland — A group of independent United Nations rights experts urged Tehran on Thursday to halt the imminent execution of a man convicted of killing a classmate when he was a minor.

“We urge the Iranian authorities to immediately and permanently halt the execution of Hossein Shahbazi and annul his death sentence, in line with international human rights law,” the experts said in a statement.

Shahbazi, now 20, was just 17 when he was arrested in 2018 for fatally stabbing a classmate during a fight between four individuals.

The four UN experts — on child rights, extrajudicial executions, torture, and the rights situation in Iran — pointed out that the court had relied partially on confessions reportedly obtained under torture.

The experts, who are appointed by the UN but do not speak on its behalf, highlighted that Shahbazi had been denied access to a lawyer and to his family during the 11 days of police interrogation.

Shahbazi’s execution had been scheduled for January 5, but was temporarily halted, the experts said, warning that he “remains at risk of imminent execution.”

Last week marked the fourth time Shahbazi’s execution had been scheduled and postponed, the statement said, warning that these repeated execution dates were “causing irreversible psychological pain and suffering to him and his family.”

The experts highlighted that they had previously raised concerns with Tehran about Shahbazi’s case.

“International law unequivocally forbids the imposition of the death penalty on persons below 18 years of age,” they said.

“Iran must observe its international obligations by imposing de jure and de facto moratorium on the execution of juvenile offenders once and for all.”

Currently, more than 85 juvenile offenders are on death row in Iran.

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