UN experts urge Iran to stop “horrific wave” of executions
19 May 2023
GENEVA (19 May 2023) – UN experts* today condemned the executions of Mr. Majid Kazemi, Mr. Saeed Yaghoubi and Mr. Saleh Mirhashemi and urged the Government to halt the appalling wave of executions in Iran.
“We are alarmed by reports of unfair proceedings in the case and deeply disturbed that these men have reportedly been subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment to extract forced confessions,” the experts said.
The three men were reportedly arrested on 21 November 2022 during protests in Esfahan city following the uprising sparked by the death of Mahsa Jina Amini on 16 September. Accused of participating in the killing of three Iranian officials, they were sentenced to death and charged with moharebeh (“enmity against God”).
“The executions of the three men this morning underlines our concerns that the Iranian authorities continue to have scant regard for international law,” the experts said. “The death penalty has been applied following judicial proceedings that failed to meet acceptable international standards of fair trial or due process.”
Reports indicate that the extent of the defendants' alleged involvement in the deaths of the police officers remains highly uncertain and questionable. The officers were allegedly killed by gunshots during the protests in Isfahan Province on 16 November 2022. Yet the charges against the defendants do not explicitly accuse them of “murder”. The three men appealed the verdict on 6 May 2023, but the Supreme Court upheld their death sentences, despite a pending request for judicial review. On 17 May, their families were called in to visit and were told by the prison authorities that this would be the final meeting.
“The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” the experts said.
The experts noted that at least 259 executions have reportedly been carried out since 1 January – mostly for drug-related offences and including a disproportionate number of minorities. The exact number of executions is unknown due to a lack of Government transparency, and the figure is likely to be higher, they said.
“We are shocked that the authorities went ahead with the executions despite the pending judicial review,” the experts said. “We urge the Iranian Government to stop this horrific wave of 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.