Insider news & Analysis in Iran

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran said that there were increased restrictions on freedom of expression in Iran, as well as further violations of the right to life, liberty and a fair trial, in a report to the General Assembly on August 16.

This is especially important in the case of executions, because the country saw 253 adults and children in 2018, which although the lowest number is still "one of the highest in the world".

Rehman, a scholar of international and Islamic law in Britain, attributed the drop to the enforcement of a 2017 amendment to Iran's anti-narcotics law, which cut the number of executions for drug-related offences by 90% from 231 in 2017 to 24 in 2018.

However, there are still over 80 offences in Iran that are punishable by the death penalty, many of which do not constitute the most serious crimes (i.e. murder) under article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In fact, the Islamic Penal Code considers adultery, homosexuality, drug possession, waging war against God, corruption on Earth, blasphemy, and insulting the Prophet to be worthy of death.

In 2018, at least 38 prisoners were hanged on the vague charges of waging war against God (moharebeh) and corruption on Earth (efsad-e fel-arz). Of these, 18 were charged with moharebeh for involvement in armed robbery, three for affiliation with banned Kurdish groups, three for affiliation with banned Baluchi militant groups, eight for cooperation with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, three for “economic corruption”, and one for being the leader of a “fake” spiritual group.

The report said: “The Special Rapporteur remains deeply concerned at the continued use of the death penalty in of the Islamic Republic of Iran… The Special Rapporteur also has concerns about allegations of confessions extracted by torture and a lack of due process or a fair trial.”

This is particularly worrying in the executions of juvenile offenders; seven of which were carried out last year. There are now roughly 90 people on death row who were under 18 at the time of their alleged crime.

The report also noted that at least 79 people have reportedly been executed in the first five months of 2019, including 17-year-olds Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat who were executed in April for the alleged crimes of rape and robbery. They were supposedly forced to confess under torture.

The report read: “The position of special procedures mandate holders and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on child offender executions has been unequivocal. They have stated that this practice is absolutely prohibited and must end immediately.”

Of course, one of the things we must keep in mind is that the Iranian Regime often downplays or undercuts statistics that make it look bad, so it is likely that the number of executions is higher than are being reported by the Regime.

As Iran refuses to allow the UN rapporteurs into the country, Rehman, who previously worked with the UN on issues of protection of minorities and banning torture, was forced to rely on government sources, human rights charities, and reports from the Iranian resistance.

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