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UN Rapporteur Notes 'Alarming Increase' In Iran Executions

Ahmed Shaheed, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran (file photo)

The United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran is warning about a recent surge in executions by the Islamic republic.

In his latest report to the UN General Assembly, Ahmed Shaheed said at least 852 people, including eight juvenile offenders, have been executed in Iran since June 2013.

He said the figure represents an "alarming increase."

In his October 28 remarks to the UN General Assembly’s third committee, Shaheed said, "The majority of the executions continue to be for alleged crimes that do not meet international standards of most serious, including political crimes, drug possession, and corruption."

He said Iran should consider a moratorium on juvenile and public executions.

He also said that despite "some recent advances by the Iranian government and the parliament," Iran's human rights situation remains a serious concern.

Shaheed cited amendments to the Islamic penal and criminal-procedure codes and the proposal of a Citizens Charter in September as examples of progress by elements of the Iranian establishment.

The UN Rapporteur also warned about censorship and other pressure on Iranian media, noting that at least 35 journalists are currently jailed in Iran.

"Another 36 journalists, bloggers and authors have been arrested, summoned, or sentenced in connection with their journalistic activities or for simply expressing their opinions on social media websites since May of this year," he said.

Shaheed, who has come under criticism by Iranian authorities over his reports detailing human rights violations in Iran, also noted the pressure on religious minorities there.

He said there are currently about 300 individuals in Iran’s prisons because of their religious beliefs and practices. They include 126 Baha’is, 49 Christians, and nine dervishes.

Shaheed also noted the ongoing state pressure on human rights defenders, who he said often face defamation campaigns that equate them with terrorists and foreign agents.

Shaheed said discriminatory laws against Iranian women and girls continue to institutionalize their second-class status.

He said that following the 2012 introduction of gender quotas, the number of women at universities has declined from 62 percent in 2008 to 48 percent last year.

An Iranian representative speaking at the UN criticized Shaheed's mandate as "politically motivated" and said that his reports provided a "flawed" picture of the situation in Iran.

But she said Iran will continue its "efforts" for the promotion of human rights.