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Press releases Special Procedures

Iran: UN experts alarmed by death sentence imposed on peaceful activist, demand moratorium on death penalty

13 May 2024

GENEVA (13 May 2024) ̶ Iran must immediately revoke the death sentence imposed on anti-corruption activist Mahmoud Mehrabi and stop sentencing people to death for expressing their opinions, UN experts* said today.

Mehrabi was convicted on charges of “corruption on earth”, a term Iran uses to refer to a broad range of offences, including blasphemy and ‘crimes’ relating to Islamic morals. He was rearrested on 16 March 2023 in connection with his online activism on justice and corruption in Iran.

“The expression of critical views online and offline cannot meet the threshold under international law for the imposition of the death penalty,” the experts said. “Mr Mehrabi’s alleged crimes can in no way be considered ‘the most serious crimes’,” they said.

In September 2023, Mehrabi faced a series of additional charges, including propaganda against the state, incitement of police and military forces to disobedience, incitement to war, crimes against national security, and insulting the founder and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Now, Iran’s Revolutionary Court has sentenced Mehrabi to death.

“It is alarming that Iran’s punishments for freedom of expression include the death penalty or long-term prison sentences,” the experts said. “Two weeks ago, we also saw the death sentence issued against Iranian rapper, Toomaj Salehi. These punishments are completely inconsistent with international law and human rights standards.

“The arrest, detention and sentencing to death of Mr. Mehrabi sends a chilling message to all those who wish to express themselves freely in Iran.”

Freedom of expression and opinion are essential to the functioning of a free and democratic society, sustainable development and the full development of the person, they said.

According to the experts, at least five people were sentenced to death in connection with nationwide protests in 2022 against the death in custody of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. At least 15 others are at imminent risk of being handed the death penalty, they said.

“We urge Iranian authorities to amend the Constitution and the penal code to prohibit executions and commute all death sentences,” they said.

*The experts: Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression

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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