[JURIST] A group of UN independent experts on Saturday called on [press release] the government of Iran to halt the startling increase in the number of hangings since the start of 2014. According to the UN Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights (OFCHR) [official website], at least 40 persons were hanged in the beginning of January 2014, and 625 executions were reportedly carried out in 2013. "We are dismayed at the continued application of the death penalty with alarming frequency by the authorities, despite repeated calls for Iran to establish a moratorium on executions," Independent experts Ahmed Shaheed and Christof Heyns said. While majority of the executions were for those convicted of drug-related offenses, a number of individuals were executed for 'enmity against God' or alleged acts against national security. "I would like to recall once again that, if the death penalty is to be used at all in countries which have yet abolished it, international law requires that it may be imposed only after proceedings that met the highest level of respect of fair trial and due process standards," said Christof Heyns. "The government of Iran has legal and moral obligations to respect the right to life, which is the most fundamental of all human rights."
Iran's harsh death penalty policy and treatment of prisoners has been questioned by human rights groups. Last month, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that Iran executed 40 people in the first two weeks of 2014, and called on the government of Iran to abolish the death penalty. In January 2013, UN human rights experts called for Iran to halt the executions [JURIST report] of five Ahwazi activists condemned on charges of "enmity against God, corruption on earth and causing propaganda against the government". The UN General Assembly in November 2012 expressed concern [JURIST report] over human rights violations in Iran that include hanging as a method of execution, public executions, and executions of minors. In October 2012 Iran executed ten members of drug smuggling gangs [JURIST report] despite pleas by the UN and Amnesty International to stay executions for non-violent crimes. Iran has been accused of "execution binging" [JURIST report] as far back as January 2011 when the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran [advocacy website] claimed they were "executing one prisoner every eight hours".