UN experts call on Iran to halt executions, including 11 planned for Saturday

Credit: OHCHR
Credit: OHCHR

UN experts call on Iran to halt executions, including 11 planned for Saturday

A group of independent United Nations human rights experts today called on Iran to immediately halt all executions, particularly the 11 reported to be scheduled for Saturday, and establish a moratorium with the aim of abolishing the death penalty.

“We urge the Iranian authorities to stop the executions of Saeed Sedeghi and 10 other individuals scheduled for Saturday, 13 October,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, and on torture, Juan E. Méndez.

Mr. Sedeghi was sentenced to death on 2 June 2012 for drug-related offences. According to available information, Mr. Sedeghi did not receive a fair trial and was subjected to torture during his detention, according to a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“Any death sentence must comply with international obligations related to the stringent respect of fair trial and due process guarantees, as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a State party,” the experts stressed.

“In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, the sentence of death can be imposed only for the most serious crimes, which do not include drug crimes. Cases that do not meet these standards are tantamount to arbitrary executions,” noted the experts, who are tasked by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council with examining and reporting back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.

“We have repeatedly urged Iran to halt executions,” they added. “We regret, however, that instead of heeding our calls, the Iranian authorities have stepped up the use of the death penalty.”

Over 300 people are known to have been executed since the beginning of 2012, the majority in respect of drug-related activities. A large number is reportedly on death row, and face risk of imminent execution.

The 10th International Day against the Death Penalty was observed two days ago, and the experts said they were “appalled” that this event has been overshadowed by an increase in the number of executions in Iran.

“Iran is no doubt aware, the international community as a whole is moving towards complying in law and in practice with the international standards in respect to the death penalty,” they stated, urging the authorities to establish a moratorium with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

The overall global trend on the use of the death penalty has seen the number of executions worldwide decline, according to OHCHR. An estimated 150 UN Member States have abolished the death penalty or introduced a moratorium, either in law or practice.