Amnesty International has demanded that Iran “halt all executions” scheduled in the coming days.
The human rights organisation said it believes that up to 23 individuals, among them at least five Afghan nationals, may be at imminent risk.
The group reported that 22 death row prisoners had been removed from their prison cells in recent days and were due to be executed on 8 September. “Their families have been told to visit them for the last time today,” it said.
“Most or all are believed to have been convicted of drugs offences,” it continued.
One of the prisoners Amnesty says might face the death penalty in the coming days is inmate Gholamreza Khosravi Savajani, 50, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for “enmity against God” (moharebeh) for his alleged ties to the terrorist group the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). The sentence was later upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court on 21 April 2012 and is expected to be carried out on 10 September.
Amnesty claims that Gholamreza Khosravi Savajani was ill-treated while in detention. It also says he did not receive a fair trial and urged the Iranian authorities to retry him.
“These allegations of torture or other ill-treatment must be investigated immediately and impartially and anyone found responsible for abuses brought to justice. He should also be retried in proceedings which meet international standards for fair trial, without recourse to the death penalty”.
“We are calling on Iran to commute the death penalty of all prisoners on death row, as we consider this most final of penalties to constitute a violation of the right to life,” said Anne Harrison, the rights group’s Deputy Programme Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“Additionally, under international law, the death penalty can only be carried out for ‘the most serious consequences’ which must be ‘intentional crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences’. Neither support for a political group nor drugs offences meet this criterion.”
The group went on to add: “These worrying reports indicate that a new wave of executions may be underway in Iran now that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the recent Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit held in Tehran are both over. There was a lull in executions during this time.”
In March 2012, Ahmad Shaheed, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, urged Iranian authorities to “seriously consider a moratorium on the death penalty for all crimes until such time as effective enforcement of due process rights may be meaningfully demonstrated.”