UN Human Rights Chief Concerned about Recent Spate of Executions

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay today strongly objected to the rising wave of executions in Iran. Below is a statement released by her office:

GENEVA (2 February 2011) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday expressed alarm at the dramatic increase in executions in Iran since the beginning of this year.

According to Iranian press reports, at least 66 people were executed in the month of January, with some sources indicating an even higher figure. The majority of executions were reportedly carried out in relation to drug offences, but at least three political prisoners were among those hanged.

“We have urged Iran, time and again, to halt executions,” Pillay said. “I am very dismayed that instead of heeding our calls, the Iranian authorities appear to have stepped up the use of the death penalty.”

Ms. Pillay expressed particular concern over the three known cases in which political activists were executed. Jafar Kazemi, Mohammad Ali Haj Aqaei and another man whose name was not disclosed, were affiliated with banned political parties. Kazemi and Aqaei were arrested in September 2009 during protests. All three individuals were convicted of mohareb or “enmity against God,” and hanged last month.

“Dissent is not a crime,” she stressed. “Iran is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to free expression and to free association…. >>>

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