GENEVA - At least 80 people and perhaps as many as 95 have been executed in Iran already this year, a surge in the use of the death penalty that has dampened hopes for human rights reforms under President Hassan Rouhani, the United Nations said on Friday.

Rouhani, who won a surprise election last year on a platform of more openness with the West, clinched an interim deal in November with world powers over Iran's nuclear program.

In September, dozens of political prisoners were released, raising hopes that he would also improve human rights in a country that ranks second after China on Amnesty International's list of states with the highest use of capital punishment.

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