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Ali Kazemi

Rights watchdog Amnesty International says it is "outraged" at the execution in Iran of a young man convicted of a murder he committed when he was 15.

The group said in a January 30 statement that 22-year-old Ali Kazemi was hanged earlier the same day in a prison in Bushehr Province.

"His execution was scheduled and carried out without any notice given to Ali Kazemi’s lawyer, as required by Iranian law," Amnesty said.

“By carrying out this unlawful execution, Iran is effectively declaring that it wishes to maintain the country’s shameful status as one of the world’s leading executers of those who were children at the time of their crime,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director.

“This is nothing short of an all-out assault on children’s rights, as enshrined in international law, which absolutely bans the use of the death penalty against someone who was under 18 years of age at the time of the crime.”

Kazemi was convicted in connection with the fatal stabbing of a man during a fight in March 2011, when he was only 15.

“It is long overdue for the head of Iran’s judiciary to intervene and establish an official moratorium on executions of juvenile offenders. Iranian parliamentarians must amend the Penal Code to ban the use of the death penalty against anyone who was under 18 at the time of the offense,” Mughrabi said.

Amnesty said it has found that prison officials and prosecutors in Bushehr "tormented Ali Kazemi’s family by making contradictory statements as to whether and when the execution would be carried out."

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials.

Ruslan Shaveddinov

Police in Moscow have arrested two prominent associates of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny on charges of urging people to participate in an illegal public demonstration.

Navalny's spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, and Ruslan Shaveddinov, who hosts programs on Navalny's YouTube channel, were detained on January 30 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and taken into custody. They were expected to appear in court on January 31.

On January 28, the two activists hosted an Internet broadcast covering a Navalny-organized national protest calling on Russians to boycott the March 18 presidential election.

Navalny, who is barred from participating in the election because of a felony embezzlement conviction that he says is politically motivated, has said the election amounts to "the reappointment" of President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny was himself arrested on his way to the January 28 protest in Moscow but was later released pending a court hearing. At least 350 people were detained nationwide.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on January 29 criticized the detentions, saying of Putin that "confident political leaders do not fear competing voices."

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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