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Fri 17 Oct 2008 03:50 PM

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Iran to halt child executions

Amnesty International welcomes new decision, wants Tehran to ban capital punishment altogether.

Amnesty International on Friday welcomed Iran's decision to stop executions of child offenders and expressed the hope that Tehran would ban capital punishment altogether.

Iran's assistant attorney general Hossein Zebhi said on Wednesday that all courts in the Islamic republic were ordered to stop executing offenders under the age of 18, state news agency IRNA reported.

In a statement, the London-based human rights group urged Iran's parliament to pass legislation to enshrine the directive into law quickly.

"Amnesty International welcomes the announcement and hopes that it will pave the way to a complete abolition of the death penalty in Iran," it said.

"It calls for the legislation and implementation to adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is a state party, and prohibits life imprisonment without the possibility of release for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age."

According to Amnesty, Iran is the only country in the world known to have executed a juvenile offender in 2008.

Iran executes juvenile offenders once they turn 18 and Amnesty said the country had hanged six such offenders this year.