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Iran: Alarming Rise of Executions by Prison Officials

Oral Statement at the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council - March 14th, 2011

Over the past several months, Human Rights Watch has documented an alarming deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran, in particular an escalation in the targeting of opposition leaders, lawyers and civil society activists, and a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters. Those currently detained or under house arrest include the leaders of Iran's opposition movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and their wives.

Since the disputed presidential election in June 2009, the government has not issued any permits to pro-reform demonstrators allowing them to stage peaceful public protests. Systematically, the government's security forces responded with violence to peaceful demonstrations, firing teargas into crowds and beating protesters. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces arrested and detained dozens of protesters, and the government confirmed two deaths on February 14 caused by live ammunition rounds. The opposition maintains that security forces shot and killed these two protesters. 

During the past several months we have also documented an alarming rise in the number of executions carried out by prison officials-86 prisoners were hanged in the first 45 days of 2011 alone. Most of those executed were prisoners convicted of drug possession and trafficking offenses, but several were charged with what Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations considered to be politically-motivated offenses. The Iranian judiciary continues to hand down death sentences with regularity. Prison officials have announced the scheduled executions of dozens more in the coming days. More than 100 juvenile offenders are currently on death row in Iran's prisons.

No thematic Special Procedure mandate holder has been able to visit Iran since 2005 - which makes the standing invitation officially extended by the Government unfulfilled and irrelevant. The establishment of an independent and credible expert will enable an informed, comprehensive, and proactive approach toward the human rights situation in Iran. We therefore believe that the creation of a Special Rapporteur for Iran would provide a much needed mechanism by which meaningful monitoring can take place.

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