UN rights chief says ‘appalled’ by Iran execution of two minors

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The UN human rights chief voiced outrage on Friday at Iran’s execution of two 17-year-old boys charged with rape and robbery, stressing that executing children is banned under international law.

Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat were executed on April 25, after a trial that the UN rights office said appeared to have “seriously breached fundamental due process guarantees.”

“I am appalled,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement, urging Tehran to immediately halt all executions of people accused of committing crimes while children.

“The prohibition of executions of child offenders is absolute under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she said.

Iran is a party in both those treaties.

Bachelet said the cases of Sohrabifar and Sedaghat were particularly deplorable since “both boys were reportedly subjected to ill-treatment and a flawed legal process.”

The two boys were 15 years old when they were arrested and accused of rape and robbery in 2017.

The UN rights office said it had received information that they were held in police detention for two months, and were initially deprived of their right to a lawyer and had been beaten.

It also pointed to reports that the boys, who originally denied all charges, had reportedly been coerced into making false confessions before they were convicted and sentenced to death.

The boys’ families had brought the case to the Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court’s sentence and ordered a retrial.

The lower court again convicted the boys and sentenced them to death.

“Apparently, neither the victims nor their families were aware that the executions were going to take place,” the rights office said.

The two were reportedly flogged before their execution, it said, stressing that flogging amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and possibly torture under international law.

“I once again call on the authorities to halt all executions of juvenile offenders, and to immediately commute all such death sentences,” Bachelet said.

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