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Officials prepare the gallows for an execution in the northern city of Nowshahr on April 15, 2014. Iran is the world's second-worst practitioner of capital punishment after China
Officials prepare the gallows for an execution in the northern city of Nowshahr on April 15, 2014. Iran is the world’s second-worst practitioner of capital punishment after China
Iran is thought to have executed nearly 700 people in the first half of 2015, according to reports compiled by Amnesty International that far exceed the 246 deaths officially declared by authorities in Tehran.

The human rights charity says “credible reports” put the true toll for the period up to July 15th at 694 people, the equivalent of three executions a day, and nearly as many as were put to death in Iran in the whole of 2014.

Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and NorthAfrica programme, said: “Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale.

“If Iran’s authorities maintain this horrifying execution rate we are likely to see more than 1,000 state-sanctioned deaths by the year’s end.

“The use of the death penalty is always abhorrent, but it raises additional concerns in a country like Iran, where trials are blatantly unfair.”

Even during the month of Ramadan, when executions are usually suspended , Amnesty reports at least four people were put to death.

Moratorium on executions

According to a report published in March by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on Iran, at least 753 people were executed in 2014, a 12-year high.

Mr Shaheed called for “a moratorium on executions”, noting that most executions were for drug-related crimes, as well as adultery, sodomy and “vaguely worded national security offences”.

Amnesty said such charges did not meet international legal standards , which permit the death penalty only for the “most serious crimes”. Most of those executed so far in 2015 had faced drugs charges, the charity said.

China carries out the most executions each year , but Iran puts to death more people per capita than any other country.

Several thousand people are believed to be on death row in Iran, although authorities there do not release exact figures.

In June, Atena Daemi, an anti-death-penalty activist who had engaged in peaceful protests, was sentenced to 14 years in prison .

Guardian News

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