The United Nations' human rights chief is urging the Maldives to stick to a decades-long moratorium on imposing the death penalty, citing fears that three men are at "imminent risk" of execution.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement issued in Geneva Tuesday that the Maldives long provided "important leadership" in efforts to end the use of the death penalty and it is "deeply regrettable that a series of steps have been taken to resume executions in the country."

In June, the Supreme Court confirmed the death penalty for a 22-year-old man convicted of killing a lawmaker in 2012. Shortly before that, the government had amended rules to allow execution by lethal injection or hanging, indicating that the country's unofficial six-decade moratorium on executions will soon end.