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UN experts condemn secret execution of Kurdish prisoner in Iran

GENEVA (22 December 2021) - UN human rights experts* condemned in the strongest terms the arbitrary execution of Iranian Kurdish prisoner Mr. Heidar Ghorbani as a serious violation of Iran’s obligations under international human rights law.

Mr. Heidar Ghorbani, a Kurdish prisoner, was executed in secret in Sanandaj Central Prison at dawn on 19 December. His execution took place without prior notice to his family and lawyer, and his body was secretly buried by prison authorities.

Mr. Ghorbani was arrested in October 2016, in connection with the killing of three men affiliated to the Basij paramilitary forces reportedly by individuals associated with an armed opposition group. Mr. Ghorbani denied membership of the group and any involvement in the killing. A Revolution Court concluded that he was unarmed, yet still sentenced him to death for “baghy” (armed rebellion) following an unfair trial and allegations that he was tortured.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran executed Mr. Ghorbani in secret, on the basis of overbroad provisions, following a deeply flawed process, and while his case was still under consideration by the Supreme Court. In the context of continuing protests and widespread dissatisfaction with the authorities, we are concerned that such an arbitrary execution  has been carried out to spread fear,” the experts stated.

“We deeply regret that, despite our multiple interventions on Mr. Ghorbani’s case, the authorities chose to proceed with his execution. This act is yet another sign of clear disregard for their obligations under international human rights law -- and for international human rights mechanisms. We call on the Government to halt the imposition and execution of the death penalty.” the experts added.

The experts have previously raised concerns with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran about the death sentence, torture allegations, and fair-trial violations against Mr. Ghorbani, and also raised their concerns publicly. The Government sent comments in response.


* The experts: Javaid RehmanSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran;  Morris Tidball-BinzSpecial Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page — Iran

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