Iran executed some 670 people last year, most of them for drug crimes that do not merit capital punishment under international law and more than 20 for offences against Islam. A special United Nations investigator, former Maldives foreign minister Ahmed Shaheed, reported that on Monday while presenting his first report to the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council.
Shaheed also reported 'a wide range of violations by Iran of U.N. human rights accords, from abuse of minorities to persecution of homosexuals and labor unions'. Shaheed's office and mandate were established last year by a narrow vote in the council when Western and Latin American countries, with some African support, joined to create a special investigation on Iran. Cuba, Russia, China and others opposed the resolution. Iran has refused to allow him into the country. In the council on Monday it described him as "incompetent".
Shaheed said to report 'with great concern' a significant increase in the rate of executions in Iran, from 200 in mid-September 2011 to over 600 executions by the end of the year. His report showed that by December 31, 421 executions had been officially announced and 249 secret ones had been reported to him by sources inside and outside the country. A table in his report showed executions had soared steadily to near 700 from just under 100 in 2003. In 2010, it was around 550.
The report of the UN-investigator concurs largely with the annual report that the Iran Human Rights published on 4 March. IHR said that at least 676 people were executed in 2011, 416 of which (62%) had been announced by the Iranian authorities. It also said that 65 of the executions were carried out in public. According to IHR the number of executions carried out publicly in 2011 in Iran is more than three times higher than the average in the previous years.
Shaheed, a long-time diplomat and founder of a human rights institute in the Maldives, told a news conference that even among those officially executed for drug offences there were strong indications that many had originally been arrested for resisting the regime or similar offences and had the narcotics charges added later.
Iran dismissed the report as a "compilation of baseless allegations".