UN rights expert condemns Iran’s ‘illegal’ execution of 12 people on drug-related charges

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed.

UN News Center- 29 August 2016 – The United Nations rights expert on the situation of human rights in Iran has expressed outrage over the execution of 12 people on drug-related charges, just days after he had publicly appealed to the Iranian authorities not to go ahead with the capital punishment.

“The execution of individuals for drug-related offences is simply illegal,” the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, said in a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

According to the release, Mr. Shaheed noted that international law only allows the imposition of the death penalty for the “most serious crimes,” where there is intentional killing, and after a fair trial that respects the most stringent due process guarantees. None of these conditions were respected, the release added, at least in the case of one of the people executed, Alireza Madadpour.

According to OHCHR, Mr. Alireza Madadpour was arrested in November 2011 after 990 grams of crystal meth were found during a raid on a house he cleaned. He was tried by a Revolutionary Court and his state-appointed defence lawyer never met him, with the trial lasting only 20 minutes. Furthermore, Mr. Madadpour’s request for pardon and retrial were not granted.

“Combating drug trafficking, a serious concern in Iran, does not justify the use of the death penalty in drug-related cases,” the Special Rapporteur said. “The execution of Mr. Madadpour and 11 others shows the Iranian authorities’ complete disregard of its obligations under international human rights law and especially of international fair trial standards and due process guarantees.”

The UN expert also renewed his call on the Government of Iran to end all executions and to immediately institute a moratorium on the death penalty.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.