NewsIran's execution rate surges 43% amid war in Gaza, reaching a 20-year high

Iran's execution rate surges 43% amid war in Gaza, reaching a 20‑year high

Protest in London against executions in Iran. Illustrative photo
Protest in London against executions in Iran. Illustrative photo
Images source: © Getty Images | 2021 Anadolu Agency
6:45 AM EST, March 5, 2024

The intensification of the death penalty's application by Iranian authorities has been highlighted in a joint report by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM). The data show that Iran executed 834 individuals in 2023, representing a 43 percent increase from the previous year. This figure was only surpassed in 2015, with 972 executions, making it the highest in the last 20 years.

According to the report, this significant upturn in executions coincides with the year following the nationwide protests ignited by Mahsa Amini's death. It also points out a correlation between the global diversion of attention due to the conflict in the Gaza Strip and the Islamic Republic's escalated use of the death penalty. "The average daily executions rose from two before the Gaza Strip conflict to 3-4 during the conflict," IHR noted.

The rise in drug-related executions

In a troubling development, the Iranian authorities have broadened the scope of capital charges, applying the death penalty for blasphemy and adultery for the first time in a decade. Moreover, the surge in drug-related executions is particularly alarming, with an 18-fold increase in 2023. A staggering 471 executions were linked to drug offenses. Despite a cooperation agreement with the Islamic Republic, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has remained silent on this issue, the report highlighted.

The death penalty: A regime's instrument of control

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, a Norwegian scientist and human rights activist focused on Iran, reflected on the findings of the report. "The Iranian regime leverages the death penalty as a means to prolong its rule. We are confronting a regime that is repressive, corrupt, and inept at addressing the populace's everyday challenges," he remarked.

Amiry-Moghaddam emphasized the centrality of the death penalty to the regime's survival strategy. "The regime's only method to cling to power is by instilling fear within society, with the death penalty being its most effective weapon. Heightening the international repercussions of executions could potentially temper the regime's propensity for capital punishment," he suggested.


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