UN experts decry drastic rise in executions by regime

Two UN independent experts condemned the dramatic surge in death sentences by the Iranian regime last week, which have taken place despite calls by the UN to immediately halt executions, according to the UN’s website.

In a press release, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, called on the Iranian regime 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.”

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN experts noted that some sources report up to 83 executions by the regime in January alone.

Some victims, they said, were charged with “moharebeh” (enmity against God) “and alleged membership in or contact with a banned opposition group,” in a reference to the several dissidents executed for supporting the main opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

 “Such a practice is unacceptable,” Mr. Heyns said.
 
Ms. Knaul also deplored the fact 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.”

Both UN experts urged the regime to comply with its international obligations.

The Special Rapporteurs also called on the regime to respond positively to their request to visit Iran for investigations.

According to the UN website, Mr. Christof Heyns from South Africa was appointed by the Human Rights Council as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in August 2010. Ms. Gabriela Knaul from Brazil took up her functions as Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on 1 August 2009.

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