State radio announced the executions of six people in public in the northeastern city of Sabzevar. The radio described the convicts as "wicked" people but did not say what crimes they had been convicted of nor when they were put to death. Iran usually carries out such executions by hanging.
On January 30, the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, banned all public executions without his prior approval.
"The ban on public executions seemed to mark the recognition on the part of Ayatollah Shahrudi that carrying out executions in public adds to the already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the penalty..." Amnesty said in a statement. "It is therefore extremely disappointing that permission was granted for these executions to take place in public, and for pictures to be circulated by news agencies..."
Amnesty also expressed concern about a new draft Penal Code and other measures that it says seek to expand the number of crimes which carry the death penalty. The group is calling on Iranian authorities to uphold the ban on public executions and to take concrete steps to work toward the abolition of the death penalty.