UN rights expert urges Iran to halt imminent execution of Panahi

A UN human rights expert has urgently called on Iran to halt the death sentence against Iranian Kurd Ramin Hossein Panahi amid reports he will be executed on Thursday.

“The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the execution of Mr. Panahi and annul the death sentence against him,” said Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Last month, UN human rights experts urged authorities to annul the death sentence, citing concerns about allegations Mr. Panahi had not received a fair trial and that he had been mistreated and tortured in detention. “I deeply regret that the authorities disregarded earlier calls to annul Mr. Panahi’s death sentence, and to afford him a fair trial,” Callamard said.

The Special Rapporteur noted that the only thing that distinguishes capital punishment from arbitrary execution is full respect for stringent due process guarantees which do not appear to have been met in this case. In this regard, she recalled reports that UN experts had received describing his incommunicado detention, torture and ill treatment, and denial of access to a lawyer and adequate medical care.

Mr. Panahi was arrested in June last year for alleged membership of the Kurdish nationalist group Komala, and was held in solitary confinement until January. His family received no information about his fate or whereabouts for four months after his arrest. He was convicted for taking up arms against the State and sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court in January 2018.

“I have been in dialogue with the Iranian authorities regarding Mr. Panahi’s situation,” Callamard concluded.