Iranian authorities carried out another 12 executions today, Sunday, in Shiraz. Five of the prisoners were hanged in public.

The Mehr News Agency reported that the executed people had been convicted of crimes that include “kidnapping, rape, armed robbery and drug smuggling.”

The seven prisoners convicted of drug charges were hanged at Shiraz Prison and the other five were hanged in public.

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, rejected criticism of the practice of public hangings. He insisted that the practice is based on Islamic law and is beyond reproach.

Human rights activists in Iran have been protesting capital punishment laws for years; however, Ayatollah Larijani, who took the helm of the judiciary in 2009, has shown less flexibility toward these protests. Iran has one of the world’s highest execution rates.