The United Nations human rights chief today deplored the execution of 20 people in Iran this week for purported terrorism-related offences.
“The application of overly broad and vague criminal charges, coupled with a disdain for the rights of the accused to due process and a fair trial have in these cases led to a grave injustice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a news release.
Reports suggest that most, if not all, of those executed were from a minority group – Sunnis from the Kurdish community. In many of the cases, there were serious doubts about the fairness of the trials, respect for due process and other rights of the accused.
A man who was hanged yesterday, Shahram Ahmadi, had allegedly been beaten and coerced into signing a blank piece of paper on which his false confession was recorded. His family members were unable to visit him before he was executed, and were reportedly directed to the cemetery instead of Rajai Shahr Prison west of Tehran.
Mr. Zeid also condemned the execution last month of Hassan Afshar, a 19-year-old who was 17 when he was arrested and convicted of rape. “The execution of juvenile offenders is particularly abhorrent,” Mr. Zeid said, urging Iran to respect the strict prohibition under international human rights law against this practice.