Executions in Iran hit 8-year high in 2023 | Death Penalty News

Use of the death penalty surged by 43 percent following huge protests prompted by Mahsa Amini’s death.

Iran hanged at least 834 people in 2023, the second-highest number of executions in two decades, according to a report released by rights groups.

The report, released on Tuesday by Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM), suggests that the 43 percent spike in the use of capital punishment last year came in reaction to nationwide protests prompted by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in 2022.

However, while nine executions were directly linked to attacks on security forces during the 2022 protests, the use of capital punishment was also stepped up in relation to other charges. Drug-related cases accounted for more than half of the total, with 471 people executed on such charges.

The report also notes that members of ethnic minorities, notably the Sunni Baluch from the southeast of Iran, were “grossly overrepresented amongst those executed”.

At least 167 members of the Baluch minority were put to death, accounting for 20 percent of the total last year. The minority accounts for about 5 percent of Iran’s population.

IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam described the figures as a “staggering total”.

“Instilling societal fear is the regime’s only way to hold on to power, and the death penalty is its most important instrument,” he said.

An unveiled woman standing on top of a vehicle as thousands make their way towards Aichi cemetery in Saqez, Mahsa Amini's home
This image, posted on X reportedly on October 26, 2022, shows an unveiled woman standing atop a vehicle as thousands make their way towards Aichi cemetery in Saqez, Mahsa Amini’s home town in Iran’s Kurdistan province, to mark 40 days since her death, defying heightened security measures as part of a bloody crackdown on women-led protests [UGC via AFP]

He also urged the world to take a stand on Tehran’s use of capital punishment.

“The inconsistency in the international community’s reaction to the executions in Iran is unfortunate and sends the wrong signal to the authorities,” he said.

Last year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said the flurry of death sentences following the outbreak of civil unrest amounted to “state-sanctioned killing”.

According to the report, while most executions happen within the confines of prison, seven were carried out in public – significantly more than in 2022.

At least 22 women were executed last year, marking the highest number in the past decade, the report added.

Fifteen were hanged on murder charges. NGOs have long warned that women who kill an abusive partner or relative risk execution.

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