Iran rejects UN criticism of upsurge in executions

UN human rights official claimed that majority of those executed were charged with non-lethal, "drug-related" offenses.

Iranian flag (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian flag
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday flat-out rejected UN expert criticism of the increasing number of its executions, calling it a “downright lie,” Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported.
The UN special rapporteur who focuses on extrajudicial executions in Iran, Christof Heyns, on Friday condemned the jump in executions in recent weeks in the Islamic Republic. In many cases, executions went unreported by official sources and the names of those killed were not 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,” special rapporteur on human rights Ahmed Shaheed said.
From April 9-26 as many as 98 prisoners were reportedly executed, bringing the total number of killings to more than 340 this year, said the statement released by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“We are alarmed by the recent surge in the number of executions, which has occurred despite serious questions about fair trial standards,” Heyns said.
“Many of the prisoners executed during this period were charged with drug-related offenses, which do not involve intentional killing and hence do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes,’” he said.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham called the execution accusations a “downright lie,” adding that “reliance on the estimated figures without any source or sources” make such claims invalid, reported Tasnim.
“It’s a great pity that the trend of the special rapporteur’s activities suggest that he does not seek credible evidence, and despite the reports and documents issued by Iran, such claims are continuously repeated with quite political purposes,” argued Afkham.
She went on to claim that Iran only uses capital punishment for the “most serious crimes, including narcotics trafficking.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran calls on the special rapporteur not to include traffickers, murderers, and those who have committed terrorist crimes in the list of political prisoners,” continued the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.
The latest UN Human Rights Council report released in March describes a variety of human rights violations in the country, including, but not limited to the issue of executions.