A child holds a poster appealing for the life of Ramin Hassan Panahi at a protest at the UN compound in Erbil earlier this year. Panahi was executed by Iran on September 8, 2018. File photo: Mohammed Shwani/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – On World Day Against the Death Penalty, Amnesty International launched a campaign to improve prison conditions for detainees on death row.
Iran, a country of concern for Amnesty, put to death fewer people in the past year, but overall numbers of death sentences have gone up.
“No matter what crime they may have committed, no one should be forced to endure inhumane conditions of detention. Yet in many cases, prisoners under sentence of death are kept in strict isolation, lack access to necessary medications and live with constant anxiety from the threat of execution,” said Stephen Cockburn, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme.
“All governments retaining the death penalty must immediately abolish it and put an end to the appalling conditions of detention that too many death row prisoners are forced to endure,” he stated.
The countries that carry out the most executions are, in order: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Iran repeatedly comes under fire for executing people after unfair trials, extracting confessions under torture, and condemning minors to death.
In the past year, Iran has carried out 256 executions and sentenced 240 people to death, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), which disseminates news from Iranian human rights reporters.
The Islamic Republic has executed at least four Kurds in September
HRANA released its annual report on the death penalty in Iran on Wednesday, noting that numbers of executions are down by half compared to 2017, but Iran’s courts have handed down slightly more death sentences – a 7.4 percent increase.
Iran is also executing more people in secret. Public executions have gone down by 54 percent and 68 percent of executions that HRANA documented were not officially announced.
Five of those killed in the past year were minors at the time of their alleged crimes.
Amnesty International is appealing for Iran to commute its sentence of death for Mohammed Reza Haddadi who was just 15 when he was arrested in connection with a murder. Haddadi retracted his initial confession, but he still faces execution.
“This is unjust,” said Amnesty.
Iraq has drawn criticism for its execution of alleged ISIS members after trials that rights agencies have condemned as rushed and unfair.