Two men convicted of rape and kidnapping were hanged in public this morning, Thursday February 13, in the city of Shiraz.

One of the executed men had been convicted of the kidnapping, rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Fars Penal Court and sentenced to death.

The other convict was arrested in December of 2008 for kidnapping and raping a number of victims in Shiraz.

Amnesty International has been highly critical of the rising rate of executions in Iran, especially denouncing the practice of public hangings.

Amnesty International reports that in 2013, 401 people were hanged in Iran and 53 of those hangings were in public.

The head of Iran’s Judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, has supported the public hangings, saying they are carried out in special cases in accordance with the country’s criminal law, Islamic law and judicial verdicts.