Iran criticised over capital punishment ‘killing spree’

Hands Of The Prisoneroriginally by: The Guardian
published: 15th December 2011

Iran has escalated its use of the capital punishment to what has been called “a killing spree of staggering proportions” in an effort to contain drug-related crimes amid concerns about the west’s continuing support for the regime’s anti-narcotics campaign, according to a report.

Amnesty International warned of “a new wave of drug offence executions” in Iran in a report published on Thursday, which highlights the country’s extensive use of the death penalty, especially in a series of public and secret hangings.

According to the report, at least 600 people were executed in Iran from the beginning of 2011 up to the end of November, of which a minimum of 488 executions were carried out for alleged drug offences.

Amnesty said the figures showed a threefold increase in comparison to drug-related executions it documented in 2009. “Members of marginalised groups – including impoverished communities, ethnic minorities suffering discrimination, and foreign nationals, particularly Afghans – are most at risk of execution for drugs offences,” it said.

Iran’s judicial system has been criticised for holding “grossly unfair trials” in a majority of the cases. Many trials are reported to have been held behind closed doors without the presence of a defence lawyer and families have not been given prior notice of the execution.

Iran is a neighbour to Afghanistan, a leading producer and supplier of the world’s drugs. As for the Afghans imprisoned in Iran for drug offences, Amnesty said it appears they are “particularly poorly treated” and as many as 4,000 of them are believed to be on death row.

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