UN: Iran Executions Hit Alarming Rate 10/26 06:13
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Iran executed over 250 people, including at least
four child offenders, in 2020 and so far this year has carried out 230
executions that included nine women and one child who was executed in secret,
the U.N. independent investigator on human rights in Iran said Monday.
Javaid Rehman told the U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee that
Iran continues to implement the death penalty "at an alarming rate" and said
"the absence of official statistics and lack of transparency around executions
means that this practice escapes scrutiny resulting in serious abuses
According to Amnesty International, Iran was the top executioner in the
Middle East last year, accounting for more than half the region's 493
executions, followed by Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Amnesty's annual figures
exclude China, where executions believed to number in the thousands are
classified as a state secret, and omit executions from some countries marred by
conflict like Syria.
Rehman said his latest report highlights serious concerns over the grounds
Iran uses for imposing the death penalty, such as "vague national security
charges." Iran also has "deeply flawed judicial processes, where even the most
basic safeguards are absent," he said.
"These elements, and the heavy reliance by courts on forced confessions
extracted under torture and other fair trial violations lead me to conclude
that the imposition of the death penalty in the Islamic Republic of Iran
constitutes arbitrary deprivation of life," Rehman said.
Rehman, a Pakistani-born professor of human rights and Islamic law at Brunel
University in London, called it "imperative" for Iran to undertake criminal law
and justice reforms, starting "most urgently" with a moratorium on the death
penalty for child offenders.
He said that beyond executions, the overall human rights situation in Iran
He pointed to "persistent impunity for serious violations of human rights
law," including those committed by people in powerful positions and "at the
highest level of public office."
"The presidential elections in June this year clearly highlight this point,"
Rehman said. He didn't elaborate but Iran's new hard-line president, Ebrahim
Raisi, led Iran's judiciary in recent years and as a prosecutor early in his
career Raisi served on a so-called "death panel" deciding who would live or be
executed in a purge that activists say resulted in the killing of as 5,000
people in 1988.
Rehman said other factors contributing to impunity include "the alarming
level of intimidation or persecution of those who call for accountability,"
citing the high number of acts of reprisals against families of victims, human
rights defenders, lawyers and journalists who seek justice. There also has been
"a heightened targeting of minority groups and advocates of minority rights,"
"The use of lethal force against peaceful protesters continues to be
characteristic of the authorities' approach to the exercise of the right to
peaceful assembly," he told the committee.
Rehman pointed to the lethal use of live ammunition against unarmed people
demonstrating against the lack of water in the western province of Khuzestan in
July, when at least nine people including a minor were killed and a large
number of other protesters were injured.
He said the widespread use of torture against detainees in many cases
amounts to "arbitrary deprivation of life."
Rehman singled out two cases: Amirhossein Hatami, a Kurdish prisoner who
died after reportedly being beaten with batons to his head by prison officials,
and the unclear circumstances of the death in September of Shahin Naseri, a
prisoner who provided witness testimony about the torture endured by Navid
Afkari, who was executed last year after participating in protests.