NEW YORK - A prominent US human rights group Sunday urged the Pakistani authorities to immediately halt the execution of an alleged child offender, which is scheduled for Thursday, and commute his sentence.

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi last week approved the execution of Shafqat Hussain, who was allegedly 14 or 15 years old when sentenced in 2004 for kidnapping and killing a 7-year-old boy. "The court approved Hussain’s execution despite allegations that security forces in Sindh province had tortured Hussain into confessing to the crime," Human Rights Watch said.

“Executing child offenders is a barbarous violation of basic decency and international law,” Phelim Kine, HRW's deputy Asia director said in a statement. “Sending someone to the gallows for an alleged crime committed as a child shows the Pakistani government’s disregard for children’s rights.”

Hussain’s looming execution follows the government’s decision on December 16, 2014, to rescind a four year unofficial death penalty moratorium for non-military personnel “in terrorism related cases. That decision was an explicit government reaction to the December 16 attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) on a school in Peshawar that left at least 148 dead – mostly children.

But Human Rights Watch said it opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as an inherently irreversible, inhumane punishment.

“The Pakistani president should immediately commute Shafqat Hussein’s execution and prevent a serious human rights violation,” Kine said. “Above all, the Pakistani government should reaffirm its commitments to fundamental human rights and the rights of children by explicitly rejecting the odious practice of executing child offenders.”