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Iran hangs 40 people in two weeks amid surge in executions

16th January 2014, 12:33:18 UTC

Iran has carried out a total of 40 executions since the beginning of 2014, with at least 33 carried out in the past week alone, said Amnesty International today.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said, “The spike in the number of executions carried out so far this month in Iran is alarming. The Iranian authorities’ attempts to change their international image are meaningless if at the same time executions continue to increase”.

The death penalty is a violation of every human being’s right to life and is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Since the beginning of 2014, Amnesty International has recorded 21 executions which were officially acknowledged by the Iranian authorities, as well as 19 additional executions reported through reliable sources.“The Iranian authorities must urgently take steps to abolish the death penalty, which has been shown again and again not to have any special deterrent effect on crime,” Colm O’Gorman said.

The Iranian authorities must urgently take steps to abolish the death penalty, which has been shown again and again not to have any special deterrent effect on crime

Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland

In the week since 9 January 2014 more officially acknowledged executions were carried out in Iran than during the whole month of January 2013.

At least one public execution was carried out on 13 January 2014 in Sirjan, Kerman Province, southern Iran, of an individual convicted of murder.

Public executions in Iran are usually carried out using cranes which lift the condemned person by a noose around the neck in front of a crowd of spectators.

The organisation is calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately adopt an official moratorium on all executions and commute all death sentences. The Iranian authorities must also end all secrecy surrounding their use of the death penalty.

Most of those executed in Iran had been convicted of alleged drug-related offences. Under international standards, non-lethal crimes such as drugs offences do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” to which the death penalty must be restricted. There is also no right to a meaningful appeal for drugs offences under Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Law, contrary to its international obligations to ensure that anyone convicted of a criminal offence has the right to appeal the conviction.

“In Iran drug-related offences are tried in Revolutionary Courts which routinely fall far short of international fair trial standards. The reality in Iran is that people are being ruthlessly sentenced to death after unfair trials, and this is unacceptable,” said Colm O’Gorman.

Revolutionary Court trials are frequently held behind closed doors and judges have the discretion to restrict lawyers’ access to the defendant during pre-trial investigations in limited cases.

Earlier this week a delegation from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade returned from a visit to Iran during which they reportedly raised a number of human rights concerns, including the application of the death penalty, with the Iranian authorities.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception.

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