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Iran: Stop imminent execution of young man arrested at 17 and tortured

Responding to the Iranian authorities’ plans on 28 June to execute 20-year-old Hossein Shahbazi, who was convicted of a murder that took place when he was just 17 years old based, in part, on “confessions” obtained through torture, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, Diana Eltahawy, said:

“Iran’s authorities must immediately halt the execution of Hossein Shahbazi scheduled for 28 June. Using the death penalty against someone who was a child at the time of the crime is prohibited under international human rights law and violates Iran’s international obligations. Going ahead with this execution would be an abhorrent assault on children’s rights and would make an absolute mockery of justice.

“The Iranian authorities must quash Hossein Shahbazi’s conviction and sentence and grant him a fair retrial in full compliance with the principles of juvenile justice, excluding coerced ‘confessions’ and without resorting to the death penalty. We also call on the international community, including UN bodies and the EU and its member states, to urgently intervene to save this young man’s life.”

Hossein Shahbazi was arrested on 30 December 2018 and sentenced to death on 13 January 2020 after a grossly unfair trial before Branch 3 of Criminal Court One of Fars province. Following his arrest, he was denied access to a lawyer and his family for 11 days while detained and interrogated in the Investigation Unit of Iran’s police (Agahi) in Shiraz, Fars province.

He was transferred to a juvenile detention facility but was denied access to his family for several days, after which he was allowed a visit from his mother. According to sources with knowledge of his case, during this visit, he had bruises on his face and appeared to have lost weight. He is currently imprisoned in Adelabad prison in Shiraz.

He was convicted, in part, based on “confessions” that he said he made after being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment at the Agahi detention centre.

His conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court on 16 June 2020. In the verdict, reviewed by Amnesty International, the judicial authorities acknowledged that he was under 18 at the time of the crime, but stated that he had attained mental growth and maturity, according to an examination carried out by the Legal Medicine Organization, a state forensic institute.

Iran continues to use the death penalty for crimes committed by people under the age of 18, in violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The authorities executed at least three juvenile offenders in 2020 and scores of others remain on death row. In 2020, Iran carried out at least 246 executions securing the shameful place of second top executioner worldwide.