The Iranian authorities are believed to have executed an astonishing 694 people between 1 January and 15 July 2015, said Amnesty International today, in an unprecedented spike in executions in the country.
This is equivalent to executing more than three people per day. At this shocking pace, Iran is set to surpass the total number of executions in the country recorded by Amnesty International for the whole of last year.
“Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“If Iran’s authorities maintain this horrifying execution rate we are likely to see more than 1,000 state-sanctioned deaths by the year’s end.”
The surge in executions reveals just how out of step Iran is with the rest of the world when it comes to the use of the death penalty – 140 countries worldwide have now rejected its use in law or practice. Already this year three more countries have repealed the death penalty completely.
Executions in Iran did not even stop during the holy month of Ramadan. In a departure from established practice, at least four people were executed over the past month.
While Amnesty International opposes the use of the death penalty unconditionally and in all cases, death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality. They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty. Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation.
“The Iranian authorities should be ashamed of executing hundreds of people with complete disregard for the basic safeguards of due process,” said Said Boumedouha.
“The use of the death penalty is always abhorrent, but it raises additional concerns in a country like Iran where trials are blatantly unfair.”