THE hanging of a former child-bride is among what has been
described as a "staggering" surge in executions in Iran reported
Farzaneh Moradi, who was reportedly forced into marriage at the
age of 15, was hanged this month after being tried for murdering
her husband. She originally confessed to the murder, but later
claimed that it was carried out by a man who persuaded her to
confess to the crime, on the basis that a young mother would not be
executed. The court would not allow a revision to her original
confession, the UN reports.
"The government [of Iran] continues to execute individuals at a
staggering rate, despite serious questions about fair trial
standards," the UN's Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary
or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, said on Wednesday of last
week. It is reported that at least 176 persons have been hanged in
Iran this year.
On Friday last week, Ahmed Shaheed, a UN special rapporteur for
human rights in Iran, said that President Hassan Rouhani, who took
office last year, had taken only "baby steps" to improve human
rights in the country. Mr Shaheed's latest report on Iran,
published last week, states that 687 people are thought to have
been executed in 2013 - 165 more than in the previous year. This is
the highest known per-capita level of executions in the world.
About half of them were for alleged drug possession or
The report is based on interviews with Iranians living in
Europe, and statements from others living in Iran or Turkey. It
highlights the "arbitrary detention of hundreds of individuals
peacefully exercising rights", and notes that, as of January this
year, there were at least 50 Christians in prison. Many were
converts from a Muslim background.
The report says that "Christian religious practice is monitored
and heavily regulated. For example, Muslim converts to Christianity
cannot enter Armenian or Assyrian Churches, as all churchgoers must
register with the government. Authorities often place cameras in
churches. Christians, especially converts, are careful to use
certain eu-phemistic language in communications."
In a detailed reply to the report, the Iranian government
criticised the credibility of the sources, and argued that
individuals guilty of serious crimes had been inappropriately
identified as human-rights defenders. It argues that drug
trafficking is a serious crime that warrants capital