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IRAN

Iranian execution condemned by UN body

The Geneva-based UN human rights body on Tuesday harshly criticized Iran for reportedly executing a man who was only 17 at the time of his alleged crime.

"The death penalty cannot be imposed for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age," insisted Cecile Pouilly, a spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
 
The UN agency was "deeply dismayed" to learn of the reported execution of 21-year-old Ali Naderi last Wednesday for his alleged role in the murder of a woman when he was 17, she told reporters in Geneva.

She underscored that Iran was a party to several international treaties that "impose an absolute ban on the death sentence against persons below the age of 18 at the time when the offence was committed."
 
Last week's execution was the first of a juvenile offender in the country since September 2011, she said, acknowledging that it appeared authorities had "made efforts to prevent such cases."
 
But, she insisted, Tehran should move "to end the execution of juvenile offenders once and for all."
 
Pouilly also voiced concern for five other men — Mohammad Al Amouri, Sayed Jaber Shabain Alboshoka, Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, Hashem Shabain Amouri and Hadi Rashidi — who appeared to be at risk of imminent execution after Iran's supreme court upheld their death sentences.
 
"There are serious concerns about the fairness of their trials and allegations that they were subjected to torture," she cautioned.
 
Pouilly said more than 400 people were executed in Iran last year, and that most of them had been charged with drug-related offences. Pouilly said that under international law, such crimes are not considered serious enough to justify the death penalty.
 
The UN agency also condemned Iran for increasingly resorting to public executions, with more than 55 carried out in 2012 and several more so far this year, including the public hanging of two men in a Tehran park on Sunday.
 
"Executions in public add to the already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty and have a dehumanising effect on both the victim and those who witness the execution," Pouilly said.

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DIPLOMACY

Iran summons Swiss envoy over US arrest of journalist

Iran's foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran to demand the unconditional and immediate release of a state television journalist detained in the United States.

Iran summons Swiss envoy over US arrest of journalist

Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said a note of complaint was issued to¬†the ambassador for Switzerland over the “inhuman and discriminatory” detention¬†of Iranian citizen and Press TV reporter Marzieh Hashemi.

The Swiss embassy in Tehran handles US interests in the Islamic republic after the two countries broke off relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“Her immediate and unconditional release was demanded” at the meeting with the ambassador, Ghasemi added.

US-born Hashemi, who works for Iran's English-language Press TV, was arrested on arrival at St Louis Lambert International Airport on January 13th, according to family and friends cited by Press TV.

Hashemi, a Muslim convert who changed her name from Melanie Franklin, had reportedly been visiting her ill brother and other family members.

A US court on Friday confirmed the arrest, saying her testimony was required over an unspecified case but that she was not accused of a crime.

At a hearing in Washington, a judge ordered the partial unsealing of an order on Hashemi.

The court said Hashemi was arrested on “a material arrest warrant” and would be let go after she gave testimony to a grand jury investigating unspecified “violations of US criminal law”.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Thursday described the detention as a “political action” by the United States that “tramples on freedom of speech” and demanded she be set free.

Zarif said that since Hashemi was married to an Iranian she is considered as an Iranian national and “it is our duty to defend our citizens”.