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Iran has witnessed a dramatic increase in executions so far in 2011.

That's according to United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay, whose office today said that Iran's current execution rate is three times that of last year.

In a statement, Pillay said that despite the UN's demands to halt the practice, "the Iranian authorities appear to have stepped up the use of the death penalty."

She added that Iran's practice of executing political prisoners is in violation of the UN's international covenant on civil and political rights, which Iran has signed.

The Dutch government froze official contacts with Iran to protest the hanging of a Dutch-Iranian woman in Tehran on January 29.

compiled from agency reports
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