Geneva, 14 December 2020
I am appalled at the execution in Iran on 12 December of Ruhollah Zam, activist and founder of the AmadNews Telegram channel.
His death sentence and execution by hanging are emblematic of a pattern of forced confessions extracted under torture and broadcast on state media being used as a basis to convict people. There were, in addition, serious concerns that the apprehension of Zam outside the territory of Iran could amount to an abduction and that his subsequent transfer to Iran for trial may not have respected due process guarantees.
Many activists and protesters in Iran have been sentenced to long prison terms or given the death penalty for exercising their human rights after trials that failed to comply with international standards regarding due process. These constitute serious violations of Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to life. Violation of the fair trial guarantees in proceedings resulting in the imposition of the death penalty would render the sentence arbitrary in nature.
I call on the Iranian authorities to immediately halt their alarming and increasing use of the death penalty and vague national security charges to suppress independent voices and dissent in Iran.
I also call on the Government to immediately free all those arbitrarily detained for exercising their human rights.
I condemn and oppose the use of the death penalty as a matter of policy in all circumstances and in every case. It is simply irreconcilable with human dignity, is too often arbitrary in its application, and errors can be never be made good again.
Under international human rights law, if applied at all, the death penalty must be limited only to the most serious crimes, involving intentional killing, and after proceedings that fully respect the guarantees of fair trial, appeal and the right to seek clemency – cumulative conditions clearly not met in Ruhollah Zam’s case.
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