Two UN Special Rapporteurs are requesting permission to visit the country in light of the alarming increase in executions.
Christophe Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Gabriela Knaul, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers are echoing the concerns and requests of other UN experts. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that the Special Rapporteurs called on Iran “to immediately declare a moratorium on the death penalty in view of the gravity of the situation and the regular disregard of due process guarantees.”

Heyns noted that at least 66 people were executed in January alone for charges ranging from drug trafficking to enmity against God to alleged ties to or membership in banned political groups.

“Such a practice is unacceptable; under international law, the death penalty is regarded as an extreme form of punishment which, if it is used at all, should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, after a fair trial,” Heyns said to Islamic Republic authorities.

Knaul also expressed concern that “in many cases, people sentenced to death do not have access to legal representation, and their families and lawyers are not even informed of the execution.” She said such practices can only be seen as a means of intimidating the population.

Yesterday, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also issued a news release voicing alarm at the surge in Iranian executions.

High Commissioner Navi Pillay said the UN has repeatedly called on Iran to cease the executions and added: “I am very dismayed that instead of heeding our calls, the Iranian authorities appear to have stepped up the use of the death penalty."

Emphasizing that dissent cannot be regarded as a crime, Pillay noted at least three known cases in which political activists were executed in the past month.

Jafar Kazemi, Ali Hajaghai and another unidentified prisoner were hanged in January, charged with enmity against God through association with banned dissident groups.

Pillay reminded Iranian authorities that they are party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to free expression and association.