UN: Iran is the World’s No1 Executor; Over 10 People Killed Weekly

Published: 12 May 2023

Iran Death Penalty“It appears that the regime is afraid of the protesters and they are trying everything possible to stop them” as reported by The Guardian. (Photo: Matt Hrkac, Flickr, Licence)

By Erika Di Benedetto

Iran is the world's highest executor, with more than 10 people put to death each week and the number could be even higher due to the lack of government transparency, the United Nations said.

According to UN Human Rights Chief, Volker Türk, at least 209 individuals have been executed in Iran since the beginning of this year.

Targeting primarily minorities, the Iranian government has been carrying out executions predominantly for drug-related offenses but also for blasphemy.

Disturbingly, within the past two weeks alone, 45 individuals, including 22 from the Baluch minority, have been executed. Most of these victims were convicted of drug-related charges, a practice that goes against international human rights norms.

The Human Rights Committee, responsible for interpreting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has explicitly prohibited the imposition of the death penalty for anything other than the most serious crimes, which typically involve intentional killings.

The committee has emphasized that drug offenses do not meet this threshold and should not be punishable by death.

Recent executions have further intensified concerns about Iran's legal system.

Habib Chaab, a Swedish-Iranian from the Ahwazi Arab minority, was put to death for "corruption on earth," a capital crime under Iran's strict interpretation of Islamic law. He had been detained since October 2020 after being forcibly brought to Iran from Turkey.

Similarly, Yousef Mehrdad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare, arrested in May 2020, were executed on Monday following grossly unfair trials, accused of blasphemy, insulting Islam, and promoting atheism, according to a United Nations press release.

UN experts have condemned Iran's use of the death penalty as a tool of political repression against protesters, dissidents, and minorities. The situation is compounded by the fact that over 19,500 people have been arrested during the ongoing protests, indicating the regime's fear of opposition.

The high number of executions in Iran has prompted serious concerns among human rights advocates.

"At this rate, Iran is worryingly on the same track as last year when around 580 people were reportedly executed. This is an abominable record, particularly when you consider the growing consensus for universal abolition of the death penalty," Türk remarked.

The contentious use of capital punishment in Iran not only shines a spotlight on the country's human rights violations but also raises doubts about the fairness of its legal system.

“In Iran, authorities use the death penalty and execution as a tool of political repression against protesters, dissidents and minorities,” UN experts said.

As reported by The Guardian in a video explainer, “It appears that the regime is afraid of the protesters and they are trying everything possible to stop them. However, it hasn’t affected the protests the way the regime expected it to”.

There are not so many people in the streets because “over 19,500 people have been arrested during the protests and they are still doing it”.