World Day Against the Death Penalty: Annual Report on Execution in Iran 2020-2021

On the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the Center of Statistics of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) has published its annual report , in efforts to sensitize the public about the situation of the death penalty in Iran.

HRANA’s Statistics Center relies on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources. It also incorporates disclosures to the media by judicial authorities announcing or confirming prisoner executions, and as such is exposed to a margin of error representing efforts by the Iranian authorities to omit, conceal, or restrict the collection of such data.

Between October 8, 2020, and October 9, 2021, executions and the death penalty have been the focus of 253 HRANA reports. Over this time period, the Iranian authorities issued the death penalty sentence to 90 individuals and have already carried out 266 executions.

Click here to download report in PDF format

Women account for only 9 of the 266 HRANA-confirmed execution victims this year. In addition, 3 juvenile offenders, under the age of 18 when they allegedly committed the crime they were charged with, were executed.

The report includes a breakdown of executions by capital offense: 55.8% were charged with murder, 33.5% were charged with drug and narcotic offenses, 3.4% were charged with Rape, 4.8% were charged with armed robbery/offenses classified as “corruption on earth”, 1.5% were charged with political or security-related offenses, and 0.74% had unknown charges.

The chart below displays execution numbers by the province in which they took place. According to this chart, Khorasan Razavi had the highest number of executions at 17.7%.  Alborz and Sistan and Baluchestan came in second and third, with 13.2% and 9.4% respectively.

The chart below depicts the distribution of executions’ information sources. The chart indicates that 82% of HRANA-confirmed executions were not announced by the official Iranian sources. Undisclosed executions are referred to as “secret” executions.

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Click here to download the report in PDF format.

For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at skylar@hramail.com

82 Executions in Iran Between April and July

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, in July, Iran executed a staggering 38 individuals for crimes related to drugs, murder, and sexual offenses. In the previous three months, an additional 44 individuals faced the same fate. All of these executions took place under the direction of president-elect Ebrahim Raisi, who will assume office on Friday.

Raisi, who has been colloquially referred to as the “Ayatollah of Massacre” for his role in the extra-judicial executions of political prisoners in 1988, continues to evade accountability for his endless violations of human rights.

According to Senior Advocacy Coordinator, Skylar Thompson, “The impending Ebrahim Raisi presidency is a frightening illustration of the culture of impunity in the Islamic Republic of Iran; it shows that without international support for a meaningful pathway to accountability, Iranian citizens will continue to suffer at the hands of the regime.” She continued, “As Head of the Judiciary, Raisi presided over the highest number of executions per capita, and in addition has committed some of the most egregious crimes imaginable throughout his career, his impending position as President promises comparable ruthlessness”

In addition to the staggering number of executions, capital punishment sentencing is also on the rise [See figure 1]. In July alone, a total of 10 people were sentenced to death, compared with 6 in June, 3 in May, and 5 in April.

 

While the death penalty is not prohibited under international law,  in countries that have not abolished the death penalty, the sentence may only be legally imposed for ‘the most serious crimes’. According to HRC General Comment no. 36 on The Right to Life (GC 36), the phrase “the most serious crime” must be “read restrictively and apply only to crimes of extreme gravity”.

Iran’s judicial system interprets the phrase, to put it lightly, in a way that is less-than-restrictive.  Despite recent legal reforms, drug-related offenses accounted for the highest number of executions between April and July (48.8%).  GC 36 also establishes that “sexual offenses, while serious in nature, must never serve as a basis for the imposition of the death penalty”, but from April to July 2021, 4 individuals were executed in Iran on charges of a sexual offense.

 

 

One of the 10 executed in July was juvenile offender Baha al-din Ghasemzadeh. Juvenile executions are explicitly prohibited under international law, but they are an enduring practice within Iran’s criminal justice system. In fact, in a recent interview with Agence France-Presse, Secretary of the state-run High Council for Human Rights Majid Tafresh said that the Islamic Republic executes juvenile offenders “three to four times a year”, and claimed this should not be considered a human rights violation.

According to HRA’s Spreading Justice Project Manager, Parasto Azizi, “HRAs Spreading Justice team has documented several individuals including judges and prosecutors responsible for imposing the death penalty for crimes falling outside of those internationally recognized as most serious including illegally imposing the death penalty in cases involving juveniles.”

*In addition to the numbers analyzed in this report, on August 2nd, the day of publishing, two juvenile offenders were executed in Urmia Prison on drug-related charges.

 

Two Prisoners Executed in Birjand in South Khorasan Province

Yesterday, two prisoners were executed in Birjand Prison in the South Khorasan province.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the Baloch Activists Campaign, the two citizens have been identified as Younes Totazehi from Chah-e Rahman rural district close to Zahedan city and Abdullah Totazehi son of Sohrab, from Zahedan in Sistan and Baluchestan Province.

Younes and Abdullah Totazehi were arrested in 2019 and sentenced to death on drug related charges.

According to international organizations, considering its population, Iran ranks first in the world in the execution of its citizens. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) reported that between January 1st and  December 20th of 2020, at least 236 citizens were executed. One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death.

More than 72% of executions in Iran are not reported by the government or the judiciary. Human rights organizations call these “secret executions.”

As of this writing, the execution of  the two prisoners has not been announced by any Iranian media or official sources.

Ardabil Prisoner Hanged to Death

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Twenty-seven-year-old Meysam Saber, a prisoner in the Health Ward of Ardabil Prison, was executed in the early morning hours of Sunday, October 21, 2018.

Saber had been detained on murder charges since 2013. He was reportedly transferred to solitary confinement on the eve of his execution.

Saber was the subject of a HRANA report on prisoner abuse last year when he was chained to the bars of the Quarantine Ward for 24 straight hours for complaining about mistreatment by prison guards.

By carrying out Saber’s hanging in silence, authorities — particularly the Judiciary — demonstrate a continued pattern of obfuscation on the topic of prisoner sentencing and executions, in spite of their responsibilities of informing the public.

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. On the World Day against the Death Penalty (October 10th), the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) published its annual report, indicating that at least 256 citizens were executed in Iran between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018, 15 of which were public hangings. Sixty-eight percent of executions, referred to as “secret executions,” are not announced by the state or Judiciary.

Prisoner Executed in Eastern Iran

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Ayoub Jahandar, 28, was executed at Ferdows Prison in the early morning hours of October 14, 2018.

A close source related to HRANA that Jahandar was sentenced to death for homicide and armed robbery after killing someone while holding up a Ferdows jewelry store in 2012. “Jahandar’s brother was sentenced to 15 years in prison for colluding with him on the robbery,” the source added.

Ferdows Prison is in the city of Ferdows in South Khorasan Province. Fewer than 300 people are held in this small prison. Reports of executions here have been rare in recent years.

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. According to registered data from the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI), at least 256 citizens were executed in Iran between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018, 15 of which were public hangings. Sixty-eight percent of executions, referred to as “secret executions,” are not announced by the state or Judiciary.

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World Day Against the Death Penalty: Iran Annual Report Oct ’17 – Oct ’18

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) has published its annual report, in efforts to sensitize the public about the situation of the death penalty in Iran.

HRANA’s Statistics Center relies on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources. It also incorporates disclosures to the media by judicial authorities announcing or confirming prisoner executions, and as such is exposed to a margin of error representing efforts by the Iranian authorities to omit, conceal, or restrict the collection of such data.

Between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018, the death penalty and executions have been the focus of 287 HRANA reports. Over this time period, the Iranian authorities issued the death penalty sentence to 240 individuals and have already carried out 256 executions; [that’s one hanging every 34 hours for a population about twice the size of California’s]. Six percent of the executions in Iran were carried out in public.

Females account for only three of the 256 HRANA-confirmed execution victims this year.

Five were under the age of 18 when they allegedly committed the crime they were charged with.

While execution numbers went down by 50% in comparison to the same time last year, Iranian courts have issued 7.4% more death sentences.

Public hangings and executions of women have gone down 54% and 50%, respectively.

The report includes a breakdown of executions by capital offense:

Drug and narcotic offenses: 6%
Murder: 72%
Rape: 9%
Political or security-related offenses: 7%
Armed robbery/offenses classified as “corruption on earth”: 6%

The chart below displays execution numbers by the province in which they took place.

Below is a distribution of execution information sources. The chart indicates that 68% of HRANA-confirmed executions were not announced by official Iranian sources. Undisclosed executions are referred to as “secret” executions.

At Least 3 Prisoners Hanged to Death in Rajai Shahr Prison of Karaj

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Early in the morning of October 3, 2018, at least three prisoners were hanged to death while seven others were granted temporary reprieve.

HRANA has confirmed the identities of those executed as Yasser Eslami and Mahmoud Akbari of Ward 1 and Omid Khosronejad of Ward 10. Eslami and Khosronejad, co-defendants in a murder case, spent four years in prison prior to their executions yesterday.

Mehdi Danesh from Ward 1 and Siroos Khodabandehlou from Ward 6 were among the seven prisoners whose execution was stayed.

HRANA previously reported on a mass transfer of prisoners to solitary confinement, the protocol for prisoners whose execution is imminent. All ten of the above prisoners were transferred to solitary cells on Sunday, September 30th.

By carrying out these hangings in silence, authorities — particularly the judiciary — demonstrate a continued pattern of obfuscation on the topic of prisoner sentencing and executions, in spite of their responsibilities of informing the public.

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. An annual report published by the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) states that more than 60% of executions in Iran are not reported by the state or the Judiciary. These executions are referred to as “secret executions.”

According to registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of HRAI, in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018) at least 322 citizens were executed and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Among these were the executions of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.

Birjand Prison Executes Four Afghan Nationals

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Six years ago, four Afghan nationals planned to use underground channels to migrate to Iran, where they had invested hopes of a better life. In the early morning hours of October 2, 2018, they were executed on charges of “armed drug trafficking,” a charge to which they reportedly confessed under the duress of torture.

Shah Mohammad Miran Zehi, Ahmad Shah Issa Zehi, Mohammad Miran Zehi, and Eid Mohammad Miran Zehi were married with children and had been in Birjand Central Prison for over six years.

In an open letter, the prisoners explained the circumstances in which they were detained and coerced to utter false confessions. Mohammad Miran Zehi wrote that they had filed into a Toyota set to take them to Birjand from Zabul when they got into a dispute with their driver near the village of Bandan [a tributary of Nahbandan on the Afghanistan-Southern Khorasan border]. Claiming he needed gas, he reportedly dropped the group off at a private residence and said he would be back.

“When [the driver] returned, he was flanked by authorities. They struck me in the head and took us to the Bandan police station. They subjected us to the cruelest forms of torture in there,” Mohammad Miran Zehi said.

Accusing them of transporting more than 300 pounds of opium and two Kalashnikov rifles, Bandar authorities used violence to press them to confess, going as far as pulling a toenail from Mohammad’s right foot.

The case file against the four was set into motion when they finally acceded to the torturers’ demands, “under the pressure, the fear for our lives, the inability to take it any longer, and hoping that maybe it would make them stop,” their letter explained.

The case file was then forwarded to judicial authorities and spent five years in suspense before Judges Nabavi and Seyfzadeh of Birjand Revolutionary Court Branch 2 issued the execution sentence on January 31, 2017. The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Shah Mohammad Miran Zehi, Ahmad Shah Issa Zehi, Mohammad Miran Zehi, and Eid Mohammad Miran Zehi; the death sentence of Saraj Gavkhur, a fifth defendant on the same case file, was commuted to 25 years’ imprisonment.

According to a close source, the group was made scapegoats for an armed conflict that had taken the life of a security agent days before their entry into Iran.

Birjand Central Prison is in the city of Birjand, capital of Southern Khorasan Province.

According to Amnesty International’s annual report, Iran ranks first in the world in executions per capita. An annual report published by the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) states that more than 60% of executions in Iran are not reported by the state or the Judiciary. These executions are referred to as “secret executions.”

According to registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of HRAI, in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018) at least 322 citizens were executed and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Among these were the executions of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.

Prisoner Executed on Murder Charges in Ardabil Central Prison

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Moslem Shiri, 37, a prisoner in Ward 5 of Ardabil Central Prison, was executed on August 13th.

Shiri, originally from Meshginshahr in Ardabil province, was arrested for murder in Chabahar city in 2008.

In protest to his frequent mistreatment and torture at the hands of prison authorities, he declared a hunger strike for one week in August 2017.

According to an annual report from Amnesty International, Iran ranks first in the world for executions per capita.

An annual report published by the Center of Statistics at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) states that more than 60% of executions, called “covert executions,” are not disclosed by authorities. According to registered data from 2,945 reports by the Statistics, Publications and Achievements Division of HRAI, in the past year (from March 21, 2017, to March 18, 2018), at least 322 citizens were executed and 236 others were sentenced to death in Iran. Among these, there was the execution of four juvenile offenders and 23 public hangings.