UN human rights chief condemns execution of two child offenders in Iran


UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday condemned Iran for executing two juvenile offenders in the span of four days emphasising that it is prohibited under international law.

Shayan Saeedpour was reported to have been executed on Tuesday while Majid Esmailzadeh was reportedly executed on Saturday, the UN said.

Saeedpour was 17 when he was alleged to have committed murder in 2015 and Esmailzadeh was convicted of the same crime when he was under the age of 18.

“The executions of these two child offenders are absolutely prohibited under international human rights law,” Bachelet said in a statement.”The imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by people below the age of 18 at the time of the offense is strictly prohibited.”

The former Chilean president said that despite repeated interventions from her office, the sentencing and execution of child offenders was still going on in Iran. “This is both regrettable and, given the clear illegality of these actions, reprehensible,” she said.

“I repeat my call on Iranian authorities to honor its international human rights obligations, immediately halt all executions of juvenile offenders, and commute all such death sentences.”

Bachelet also condemned the beating to death of a third juvenile offender, Danial Zeinolabedini, which was confirmed on April 02. He had been transferred to a new jail following a riot in a prison on March 28 in protest at conditions and the failure of the authorities to temporarily release detainees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saeedpour was among some 80 prisoners who escaped from Saqez prison following a protest against prison conditions on March 27 amid the COVID-19 outbreak. He was rearrested on or around  April 03.

Iran is among the world’s hardest-hit countries in the COVID-19 pandemic, with 5,297 reported deaths and has temporarily released some 100,000 prisoners, or around 40 percent of its entire prison population, in several stages since March to reduce crowding.

Bachelet said the executions of the young offenders who were allegedly involved in the coronavirus protests “raises grave concerns about the possibility of expedited executions of other death-row prisoners” involved in those protests.

Amnesty International said Tuesday that the execution of Saeedpour was “vengeful and cruel”. “The use of the death penalty against Shayan — a child with a long history of mental illness — was strictly prohibited,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for the Middle East.

Amnesty claimed there were at least 90 juvenile offenders on death row in Iran. (Source: OHCHR)