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Iran's top human rights official responded to UN criticism of the death penalty in his country by saying 93 percent of the executions in Iran are for illegal drug smuggling.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Human Rights Council, made his comments in answering a UN report criticizing Iran's frequent use of capital punishment.

Larijani's comments were posted on the Iranian Judiciary's website on November 1.

The UN report from October 23 said at least 852 people have reportedly been executed between July 2013 and June 2014, calling the figure an "alarming increase" from previous years.

Officials from several European countries convened in Geneva for a UN human rights meeting this week and urged Iran to adopt a moratorium on the death penalty.

Three Afghans were executed on drug-smuggling charges on October 22, while six other Afghans were hanged earlier this year.

Based on reporting by AP

Facebook and other social media have been partially blocked in Tajikistan for the third time this month.

Internet users in Tajikistan say that Facebook, as well as local news portal Topnews.tj, and Russia's VKontakte social network and Yandex search engine, stopped being accessible via several Internet providers on October 30.

The reason for the blockage is not known.

In the past few years, Tajik authorities have occasionally blocked access to news and social media websites, including RFE/RL's Tajik Service and Facebook, but later unblocked them.

The Tajik government's Communication Service said it had not ordered any blockage.

In past cases, the state has also either denied any involvement or cited technical problems as the cause of blockages.

With reporting by Asia-Plus

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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