In its new report, “Death Sentences and Executions in 2009
,” Amnesty International cites Iran as one of the worst offenders worldwide in imposing the death penalty.
According to the report, Iran executed 388 people in 2009, placing it second only to China, where the number of executions is not revealed but is thought to be in the thousands.
Iran’s use of capital punishment exceeds Iraq, with 120 executions last year, Saudi Arabia with at least 69, and the United States with 52.
The rights group notes that Iran conducted at least 14 executions in public, and used capital punishment “extensively” to silence opponents and to send a political message.
Executions spiked in the turbulent period after the contested presidential election last June, when many hundreds of political activists and oppositionists were arrested, Amnesty International said. “In Iran, 112 executions were known to have taken place in the eight-week period between the presidential election on 12 June and the inauguration of Mahmud Ahmadinejad for a second term as President on 5 August,” the report said.
Amnesty International says the true number of executions in Iran is likely to be higher than the official statistic.
According to the rights group, the majority of executions in Iran came after trials that violated international laws and standards pertaining to the death penalty.