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UN, EU, and Germany, among others, condemn recent executions in Iran

The recent execution of a group of Sunni political prisoners in Iran has drawn heightened criticism of Iran’s record on corporal punishment and its historically high execution rate.

The execution of at least 20 political prisoners in Iran last Wednesday was not greeted by the silence that characterizes the international community’s normal response to corporal punishment in Iran. This time, the European Union, the United Nations, and Germany have all spoken out against Iran’s increasingly frequent and arbitrary use of the death penalty against its citizens.

“Iran has recently executed 20 individuals charged with murder and undermining national security,” said a statement Thursday, August 4, by Federica Mogherini, the spokesperson for the EU’s foreign affairs chief.

“The EU reiterates its strong opposition to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances,” the statement added.

“It also recalls its concern with the high number of executions in Iran. The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein released a statement on Friday condemning the executions.

“Reports suggest that most if not all of those executed were from a minority group – Sunnis from the Kurdish community,” the statement said.

“In many of the cases, there were serious doubts about the fairness of the trials, respect for due process and other rights of the accused. One of the men who was hanged [on August 3], Shahram Ahmadi, had allegedly been beaten and coerced into signing a blank piece of paper on which his false confession was recorded. His family members were unable to visit him before he was executed, and were reportedly directed to the cemetery instead of Rajai Shahr Prison west of Tehran,” said the statement.

In a statement released last Friday, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, reiterated Germany’s opposition to the death penalty.

“The German Government is opposed to the death penalty whatever the circumstances. Especially in view of the shocking reports of the recent execution of twenty men in the region of Alborz, I strongly urge all political leaders in Iran to suspend further executions with immediate effect and to refrain entirely from the imposition of death sentences against minors,” she said, referring to last month’s execution of 19-year-old Hassan Afshar, who was 17 when he was arrested.

The statements reflect a growing international concern about Iran’s use of corporal punishment, which has risen since 2013 when Hassan Rouhani, touted as a reformist candidate, was elected President of Iran.

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