Executions in Iran on the rise, U.N. monitor finds

In addition to the increase of death penalties, authorities continue to crackdown on criticism or those, Ahmed Shaheed

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Executions in Iran are on the rise, despite President Hassan Rowhani’s promises to improve the country’s human rights record, a United Nations human rights monitor has said.

In addition to the increase in death sentences, authorities continue to crackdown on criticism of the state, and those “who publicly deviate from officially sanctioned narratives,” Ahmed Shaheed, special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said according to the New York Times.

The Islamic republic has one of the highest rates of execution in the world. The number of death sentences carried out in the country apparently increased since Rowhani took office in 2013, Newsweek reported.

More than 740 people were executed in 2014, a 10 percent increase compared to 2013, the news website reported citing findings by the Iran Human Rights French group Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (Together against the Death Penalty).

Of the 753 executions of 2013, only 291 were announced by official sources, Newsweek reported adding that the number of death penalties carried out has been steadily rising since 2005.

Shaheed places the number at more than 852 executions between July 2013 and July 2014. Having been barred from Iran, he compiled his report through telephone interviews and contacts inside the country.

The Iranian ambassador to United Nations in Geneva criticized Shaheed’s report as an “approach of ignorance.” He accused the monitor of ignoring positive developments in Iran by highlighting “the empty half of the glass.”

Iran’s participation in the Human Rights Council has placed its human rights record under the lime light.

Amnesty International called on the Islamic republic on Thursday to reassess its decision to execute a minor from Iran’s Kurdish minority.

“The Iranian authorities must demonstrate that they are serious about their commitments to human rights and that they see their participation in the U.N. review as more than a mere PR exercise,” the rights group said.

Separately, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) is planning on going ahead with a multi-million dollar aid package to Iran despite the rise in death penalties, the Guardian reported on Friday.

Two people have been executed in Iran everyday on charges related to drug trafficking. The U.N. body has come under fire for its decision to deliver the aid.

Reprieve, a UK based rights group, has called upon UNDOC to cease aiding Tehran’s anti-narcotics efforts until authorities stop using capital punishment in drug-related charges.