RSF and Iran’s Defenders of Human Rights Centre urge Iran to halt executions
On the eve of World Day Against the Death Penalty (10 October), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Iran’s Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) urge the Iranian authorities to end executions, which often target prisoners of conscience, including journalists.
The two organizations also call for a campaign, using the #notoexecution hashtag on social media, to denounce Iran’s use of capital punishment and to save the lives of Iranian journalists and other prisoners of conscience.
Iran’s execution of 27-year-old wrestler Navid Afkari on 12 September triggered an international outcry. Around 40 members of the UN Human Rights Council, UN human rights experts and the European Union condemned what some called a “summary execution.” Afkari was convicted of murdering and of “moharebeh” (waging war against God) – charges he always denied.
Iran executes more people than any other country in the world except China. Based on the Sharia, Iran’s Islamic criminal law provides for the death penalty for many crimes. Around 30 people are currently waiting in Iranian prisons for their death sentences to be carried out. They include AmadNews Telegram channel and website editor Rouhollah Zam, who was sentenced to death on 30 June.
“At least 30 prisoners of conscience are currently waiting on Iran’s death rows to be executed,” Nobel peace laureate and DHRC president Shirin Ebadi said. “Iranians have been fighting for years for the death penalty to be removed from the penal code. It is now urgent for the international community to come to their aid."
At least 20 journalists, citizen-journalists and bloggers have been sentenced to death in Iran in the past 20 years and, according to official figures, the Islamic Republic has executed more journalists than any other country in the past 50 years. In the immediate aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, around 20 journalists who were either close to the Shah’s regime, such as Ali Asgar Amirani, Simon Farzami and Nasrollah Arman, or to left-wing circles, such as Said Soltanpour and Rahman Hatefi-Monfared, were executed by firing squad.
“Iran has executed thousands of men and women since 1979, including a score of journalists who were all convicted by unfair courts,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Sentencing prisoners of conscience including journalists to death is the most extreme way to suppress freedom of expression. It is time the Islamic Republic finally abandoned these cruel punishments from another era.”
Iran has never signed the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which calls for abolition of the death penalty, and has voted against all UN General Assembly resolutions calling for a moratorium on use of the death penalty.
Iran fell three places in RSF's latest World Press Freedom Index and is now ranked173rd out of 180 countries.