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Teenager tortured into ‘confessing’ days away from execution in Iran

The Iranian regime must urgently halt the scheduled execution this Sunday of a teenager who was just 15 years old at the time of his arrest, Amnesty International has said.

Alireza Tajiki, now 19 years old, was sentenced to death in April 2013 after a conviction by the regime’s criminal court in Fars Province, southern Iran.

Amnesty said his conviction was primarily on the basis of “’confessions’ extracted through torture which he repeatedly retracted in court.”

His execution is due to take place on Sunday, May 15 in Shiraz’s Adel Abad Prison in Fars Province.

“Imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of the crime flies in the face of international human rights law, which absolutely prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed under the age of 18. It is particularly horrendous that the Iranian authorities are adamant to proceed with the execution when this case was marked by serious fair trial concerns and primarily relied on torture-tainted evidence,” said James Lynch, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“Iran’s bloodstained record of sending juvenile offenders to the gallows, routinely after grossly unfair trials, makes an absolute mockery of juvenile justice and shamelessly betrays the commitments Iran has made to children’s rights. The Iranian authorities must immediately halt this execution and grant Alireza Tajiki a fair retrial where the death penalty and coerced ‘confessions’ play no part,” he added.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Iranian regime to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

In its May 12 statement, Amnesty said: “More than 970 people were put to death across Iran last year. In January 2016 Amnesty International published a report which found that despite piecemeal reforms introduced by the Iranian authorities in 2013 to deflect criticism of their appalling record on executions of juvenile offenders, they have continued to condemn dozens of young people to death for crimes committed when they were below 18, in violation of their international human rights obligations.”