THE EUROPEAN Union (EU) on Tuesday extended sanctions against Iran by another year over what the bloc says are serious human rights violations. The EU said in a statement it extended a travel ban and asset freeze against 82 people and also a ban on EU exports that might help in the repression of internal dissent. In 2011, the EU imposed the restrictions over the repression of peaceful demonstrators, journalists, human rights defenders, and others. The sanctions also target those involved in torture, inhumane treatment, stonings or hangings. The extension prolongs the sanctions until April 13, 2018. The sanctions are separate from those over Iran’s alleged nuclear program, which have been lifted Iran has been criticized both by Iranians and international human right activists, writers, and NGOs. The United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission have repeatedly condemned prior and ongoing abuses in Iran in published critiques and several resolutions. In April 2016, Amnesty International reported a dramatic 54 percent increase in executions globally in 2015, with Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia responsible for nearly 90 percent of the killings. Executions in Iran rose 31 percent to 977, and Iran is one of the world’s largest users of the death penalty, ranking second behind China in 2014, according to the most recent figures from s

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