Iran executions three times last year’s rate: U.N.

GENEVA — Iran has witnessed a dramatic increase in executions so far in 2011, United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Wednesday and her office said the rate was three times that of last year.

Expressing alarm at the rise, she said at least 66 people, including three known to be political dissidents, were executed in January. Pillay aides said they had recorded about 300 executions for the whole of last year.

“We have urged Iran, time and time again, to halt executions,” said Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, in a statement issued through the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, where she is based.

“I am very dismayed that instead of heeding our calls, the Iranian authorities appear to have stepped up the use of the death penalty.”

Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, said tracking of official Iranian reports and the country’s media showed that last year the figure was running at about 18 to 25 a month. “So this year it is triple that rate,” he told Reuters.

Pillay, a former South African high court judge, said she was deeply concerned at the large number of people reported to be under sentence of death


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