File photo of a public execution in Iran

Amnesty Says 853 Executed In Iran In 2023, Highest Since 2015

Thursday, 04/04/2024

Rights group Amnesty International reported Thursday that 853 people were executed in Iran in 2023, a record number in the last eight years.

“Amid domestic calls for the abolition of the death penalty, including from death row prisoners, the Iranian authorities have doubled down and persisted with their state-sanctioned killing spree which has turned prisons into killing fields,” read the investigative report titled “‘Don’t Let Them Kill Us’: Iran’s Relentless Execution Crisis Since The 2022 Uprising.”

Amnesty International announced that execution is used as a tool of political repression by the Iranian government which may continue its juggernaut to execute thousands more in the coming years if there is no robust response from the international community.

According to the report, 481 executions, more than half of the total recorded in 2023, were for drug-related offences as the regime beefs up its lethal anti-narcotics policy which can impact poor and marginalized communities in Iran.

Since the 2022 nationwide uprising triggered by the death in morality-police custody of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian government has intensified the use of the death penalty to sow terror among the people and consolidate its grip on power, Amnesty International said.

The number of executions in Iran in 2023 is the highest recorded since 2015, representing a 48% increase from 2022 and a 172% increase from 2021. The trend has continued in 2024, with at least 95 executions recorded until March 20.

“The execution crisis in Iran both stems from and exacerbates a wider crisis of systemic impunity for the arbitrary deprivation of life. Security forces, prosecutors and judges collaborate in a relentless assault on the right to life,” the report said.

At least six of the executed in 2023 were protesters arrested during the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement in 2022, and one other executed in connection to the nationwide uprising in November 2019. The Iranian government also executed at least two social media users on charges of “apostasy” and “insulting the Prophet of Islam” in their social media posts.

“Our shocking findings on the Iranian authorities’ ongoing assault on the right to life underscore the urgent need for the international community to press the Iranian authorities for an immediate moratorium on all executions,” said Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, further calling for the renewal of the mandates of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Iran and the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran.

The United Nations Human Rights Council launched the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in November 2022 in the midst of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement. Following 18 months of investigations, the FFM released its first report on March 8, concluding that the Iranian government carried out widespread and sustained human rights violations, which broke international laws and disproportionately targeted women and girls as well as children and members of ethnic and religious minorities during 2022 protests.

The latest report even exceeds the numbers released in January by the UN which said at least 834 people had been executed in 2023.

“It is vital to signal to the Iranian authorities that their abysmal human rights record will remain under international scrutiny and to ensure that an international independent investigative and accountability mechanism remains in place to collect and analyze evidence of crimes under international law,” Eltahawy stressed.

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