Iranian police are preaparing a pile of drugs before an incineration ceremony of some 100 tons of illicit drugs in an annual ritual in Tehran, Iran, 26 June 2013, aimed at preventing drug trafficking and drug use. EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/FILE

Amnesty International denounces Iran’s increased drug executions

London, June 2 (EFE).- Iran has executed in the first five months of this year at least 173 people convicted of drug offenses after “systematically unfair” trials, Amnesty International said Friday.

This figure almost tripled that registered last year during the same period, the humanitarian organization said, adding that executions for this type of crime affect, above all, people “from marginalized and economically disadvantaged environments.”

The organization said almost 70 percent of all executions ordered by the regime between January and May were “for drug crimes.”

“Approximately 20 percent of recorded executions have been of people from Iran’s impoverished and persecuted Baluchi ethnic minority, despite the fact that only 5 percent of the Iranian population belongs to it,” he said in a statement.

The organization said this increase in the number of death sentences violates “international law” and exposes the “lack of humanity” of the Tehran authorities, as well as “their flagrant disregard for the right to life.”

“The international community must ensure that cooperation in counternarcotics efforts does not contribute, directly or indirectly, to the arbitrary deprivation of life and other human rights violations in Iran,” said Diana Eltahawy, the organization’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director.

She urged states and intergovernmental organizations to condemn Iranian authorities “in the strongest terms” for these “arbitrary executions” and to demand “an official moratorium on all executions.”

They should also send, she said, representatives to visit prisoners sentenced to death and request their presence at trials for crimes liable to capital punishment.

Overall, Iran has “significantly” increased the number of executions for all crimes, amounting to at least 282 in the year to the end of May, “almost double” the number recorded in the same period last year. .

“If they continue with this alarming rate of executions in general, by the end of this year the number of executed prisoners could add up to almost 1,000,” Amnesty said.

The report published Friday includes testimonies from those sentenced to death for drug crimes that reveal the irregularities of the “systematically unfair” process followed by the so-called “Revolutionary Courts,” the result of “deficient investigations by the police and other security forces.”

The organization said accused people are denied their procedural rights, including access to legal representation, and “confessions” obtained under torture are used as evidence to convict them.

“In the ‘Revolutionary Courts,’ the judges ask you if the drug is yours and it doesn’t matter if you say yes or no. At my trial, the judge told me to shut up when I said it wasn’t mine. He told me it was a death sentence and ordered me to sign a document accepting the sentence. He didn’t even let my lawyer speak in my defense,” a convict told the organization. EFE