Iran’s executions see ‘alarming rise’ in 2021, the report shows

  • The executions in Iran increased by 25%, said Iran Human Rights and Together Against the Death Penalty.
  • A significant percentage of the executions were for drug crimes.
  • Executions for women also showed an increase.

Executions in Iran increased by 25% in 2021, said a report by two leading NGOs on Thursday, which expressed alarm over an increase in the number of people executed for drug crimes and also the hanging of at least 17 women.

The number of executions in Iran also increased after the June election of the tough former Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency, the report from the Norwegian-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and France’s Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) said.

READ | Iran says the lack of a US decision on a nuclear deal complicates the negotiations

The report called on the world powers to negotiate with Iran to revive the agreement on its nuclear program to put the use of the death penalty in the Islamic Republic – which executes more people annually than any other nation than China – at the center of negotiations.

At least 333 people were executed in 2021, an increase of 25% compared to 267 in 2020, the report said based on official media but also sources in Iran.

Meanwhile, at least 126 executions for drug-related charges were five times higher than the 2020 figure of 25.


This marked a major reversal of a trend towards a decline in drug-related executions since Iran in 2017 adopted amendments to its anti-drug legislation in the light of international pressure.

Over 80% of the executions were not officially announced, including all of them for drug-related offenses, it said.

The report “reveals an increase in the number of executions, an alarming increase in the execution of death sentences for drug crimes and a persistent lack of transparency,” the NGOs said.

IHR Director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam expressed concern that there was “less scrutiny” of Iran’s rights as powers focused on bringing the nuclear talks to a positive conclusion.

He said:

There will be no lasting agreement (agreement) … unless the situation of human rights in general and the death penalty in particular are key elements of the negotiations.

The report said at least 17 women were executed in 2021, compared to nine in 2020. Twelve were convicted of murder and five of drug-related charges.

There has been growing concern about the number of women executed on charges of murdering a man or a relative who activists believe may have been abused.

It noted the case of a woman, Zahra Esmaili, who shot her husband and killed in 2017.

It said she was executed in February 2021 and may have had a heart attack before she was hanged after seeing others suffer the same fate before her.

In another case, Maryam Karimi was convicted of the murder of her husband and hanged in March 2021, where her daughter personally carried out the execution by kicking the stool away, as permitted under Iranian law.

The report also expressed concern that the execution of ethnic minorities also continued to increase in 2021, accounting for a disproportionate number of those hanged.

Prisoners from the Baluch minority accounted for 21% of all executions in 2021, even though they represent only 2% to 6% of Iran’s population, it said.

Most of the detainees executed for security-related charges belonged to the ethnic Arab, Baluchi and Kurdish minorities, it added.

ECPM Director Raphael Chenuil-Hazan said:

We are concerned about the disproportionate number of executions of ethnic minorities, as shown in this report.

In a welcome development, the report said there were no public executions in Iran in 2021 for the first time in a decade, but expressed concern that they could start again.

“A society that is routinely exposed to such organized violence has accepted the death penalty as a legal solution, and the death penalty has consequently become a tool of oppression in the hands of the government,” said Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, whose film on the impact of death. punishment in Iran has won international awards, wrote in a preface to the report.

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Iran’s executions see ‘alarming rise’ in 2021, the report shows

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