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UN Lambasts Iran’s Increasing Use of Executions

FILE - A member of Iran's special police forces checks the rope before an execution by hanging, in Tehran, Aug. 2, 2007.
FILE - A member of Iran's special police forces checks the rope before an execution by hanging, in Tehran, Aug. 2, 2007.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned Iran’s increasing use of executions and the death penalty — including among children - in violation of international law. The secretary-general has submitted a report on the human rights situation in Iran to the U.N. human rights council.

The secretary-general has deplored Tehran’s increasing use of executions and the death penalty, saying they are based on charges that do not amount to the “most serious crimes” and are incompatible with fair trial standards.

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, who presented the report, said at least 570 people were executed in the past two years, many on drug-related charges. Those executed, she said, included at least 14 women and more than 100 people belonging to minority groups.

Al-Nashif decried the execution of at least two child offenders between August 2021 and March 2022, in violation of international law. She said more than 85 child offenders remain on death row.

“Patterns of arbitrary deprivation of life due to excessive force used by the authorities against border couriers, peaceful protestors, and those in detention, continued with impunity," Al-Nashif said. "The scale of deaths in detention, both as a result of violence and ill-treatment by officials and due to the lack of timely access to medical care is of serious concern.”

The report accuses the Iranian government of keeping a tight grip on its population through increasingly repressive measures. It says the government maintains total control through restrictive legislation, the use of violence, and widespread violations of peoples’ human rights.

Al-Nashif cited a series of legislative measures with detrimental consequences for peoples’ reproductive rights and uncensored access to the Internet. However, the laws she said fail to criminalize violence against women and they undermine minority rights, particularly the Baha’i religious minority.

“Civic and democratic space continue to be restricted with human rights defenders and civil society actors operating within a coercive environment where violations are committed with impunity," Al-Nashif said. "In April and May of 2022, at least 55 individuals, teachers, lawyers, labor rights defenders, artists, and academics were arrested during protests.”

Iran’s deputy permanent representative in Geneva, Mehdi Ali Abadi denounced the report as an appalling and disgraceful political tool used by the United States and Canada against his country. He said the report was biased and based on false allegations. He said Iran was fully committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and respected its international obligations.