At least one person has been executed in Iran every day so far in 2023

Iran has carried out 209 executions this year.

The Iranian government is executing 10 people every week on dubious charges such as drug trafficking, blasphemy and “national security concerns”, according to human rights groups.

The toll stands at 209 people executed as of early May in 2023, while the number for the whole of 2022 was put at over 500, putting Iran on course to execute more people this year than it did last.

The executions for blasphemy are unusual in Iran even by the standards of the Islamic Republic, where judges have previously passed more lenient sentences for people caught in Iran for similar crimes. A surge in the number of people rushed to execution rooms in Iranian prisons has alarmed human rights groups, who claim Tehran is using executions to spread fear amidst increasing political discontent in the country. 

The Iranian judiciary handpicks the reports of executions published on its news agency, Mizan. More reports about death penalties are trickling out, and on Wednesday, the agency reported that authorities have hanged three people accused of being members of the “Panjak gang”, who were accused of being the “biggest cartel distributing cocaine” in the country.   

In another report, Mizan said that two men who were convicted in 2021 were hanged in Arak prison on Monday, accused of running a Telegram channel that had posts online dedicated to “atheism and desecration of the sanctities,” according to the Iranian state-run media.

Despite international condemnation, the judiciary in Iran has continued to carry out sentences passed by courts of the Islamic Republic. Iran is one of the few countries in the world that still practise capital punishment, including for crimes such as drug trafficking, blasphemy, and “spreading corruption on earth” or “enmity against God.” These infamous charges are often used against political figures.

UN Human Rights Chief in Geneva, Volker Türk, called on the Iranian authorities to halt executions in a statement on Tuesday “This is an abominable record, particularly when you consider the growing consensus for the universal abolition of the death penalty,” he said.

“Iran is worryingly on the same track as last year when around 580 people were reportedly executed.” He said that the reports showed the latest wave included a “disproportionately” high number of people representing minorities in Iran.

WriterChris Saunders
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