Amnesty International has condemned the “horrifying” rate of state executions in Iran. The country is on course to kill 1,000 citizens this year.
The oil state is putting to death more than three people a day and authorities have killed almost 700 people between 1 January and 15 July, says Amnesty.
The human rights body says the spike is “unprecedented and staggering” and the country is about to surpass the total for the whole of last year.
“Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“If Iran’s authorities maintain this horrifying execution rate we are likely to see more than 1,000 state-sanctioned deaths by the year’s end.”
The rise of killings has shown how out of step the country is with the rest of the world, says the body. It noted that executions did not even stop during the holy month of Ramadan, when four were put to death.
The country’s tough anti-narcotic laws means death sentences can be applied for trafficking more than 5kg of drugs derived from opium or more than 30kg of heroin, morphine, cocaine or other chemical derivaties.
International law states that death penalties should only be used for the most serious cases, such as intentional killing.
The body says trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation.
“The Iranian authorities should be ashamed of executing hundreds of people with complete disregard for the basic safeguards of due process,” said Said Boumedouha.
“The use of the death penalty is always abhorrent, but it raises additional concerns in a country like Iran where trials are blatantly unfair.”
Last year the United States carried out 35 death sentences in comparison, Iraq put to death more than 60 while Saudi Arabia executed more than 90 citizens.
China topped the list again carrying out more executions than the rest of the world put together. According to Amnesty: “Thousands are executed and sentenced to death there every year, but with numbers kept a state secret the true figure is impossible to determine.”