GENEVA (8 May 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, today condemned the sharp increase in executions in recent weeks in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In many instances, executions have gone unreported by official sources, and the names of prisoners have not been published.
“When the Iranian government refuses to even acknowledge the full extent of executions which have occurred, it shows a callous disregard for both human dignity and international human rights law,” Mr. Shaheed stressed.
Between the 9 and 26 of April, as many as 98 prisoners are reported to have been executed, an average of over six per day. The latest wave brings the total number of executions since 1 January 2015 to more than 340, including at least six political prisoners and seven women.
“We are alarmed by the recent surge in the number of executions, which has occurred despite serious questions about fair trial standards,” Mr. Heyns noted. “Many of the prisoners executed during this period were charged with drug-related offences, which do not involve intentional killing and hence do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’.
The independent experts drew special attention to continued reports of executions taking place in public, with 15 such executions known to have occurred already in 2015. “Executions staged in public have a dehumanising effect on both the victim and those who witness the execution, reinforcing the already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty,” they said.
The Special Rapporteurs jointly urged the Iranian Government to heed to the growing appeal by the UN human rights system to halt all executions and to establish a moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolishing the practice altogether.
Ahmed Shaheed (the Maldives) is a Visiting Professor at Essex University, UK; a former member of the Maldivian presidential Commission Investigating Corruption; and a foreign policy advisor to the President of the Maldives. Mr. Shaheed was Foreign Minister of the Maldives from 2005 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2010. He led the country’s efforts to sign and ratify all nine international human rights Conventions and to implement them in law and practice. He was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/IRIndex.aspx
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (South Africa), is a director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
The Special Rapporteurs 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: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/IRIndex.aspx
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