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Iran must halt execution of child offender - UN

Iran must immediately halt the imminent execution of child offender Mohammad Kalhori, say a group of UN human rights experts*.

Mohammad Kalhori** was sentenced to death for killing his teacher when he was 15 years old. It is reported that his family have been told to visit him for the final time. This is taken as a strong indication that his execution is imminent.

“Iran must halt the execution of this child offender and immediately annul the death sentence against him, in line with its international obligations,” the experts said in a joint statement.

“Iran has committed itself to prohibiting the use of the death penalty for all those who committed a crime while under the age of 18 by its ratification of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As such, this execution is unlawful and arbitrary,” they stressed.

In 2013, Iran amended its Penal Code to allow judges to provide alternative sentences for child offenders if there was uncertainty about their “mental development” at the time of the crime or if they had not realised the nature of the crime. Iran assured the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2016 that the amendment, Article 91, would apply systematically to all child offenders on death row.

Kalhori, now aged 20, was sentenced to death on appeal despite a State forensic institution report that found he was not mentally mature at the time of the crime. He had originally been sentenced to imprisonment and a fine based on the report.

“Notwithstanding the clear prohibition of the application of the death penalty for those who committed a crime while under the age of 18, this case demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the amendment to the Penal Code itself,” the UN experts said.

There are believed to be dozens of child offenders on death row in Iran, which reportedly executed at least six child offenders in 2018.

The UN experts have previously notified the Government of Iran about their deep and continuous concerns.

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