UN investigator Javaid Rehman on Monday criticised Iran for its high number of executions, for frequently using the death penalty against those convicted as minors and for using it as a “political tool” against opponents.
Mr Rehman, the UN’s rapporteur on Iran, told a committee in New York that Iran’s theological elite use the country’s justice system and the death penalty as a way to hold on to power.
“There are extensive, vague and arbitrary grounds in Iran for imposing the death sentence, which quickly can turn this punishment into a political tool,” Mr Rehman told the UN human rights committee.
“The structural flaws of the justice system are so deep and at odds with the notion of rule of law that one can barely speak of a justice system.”
He pointed to prosecutions under vague charges that criminalise everything from “corruption on earth” to “armed rebellion” and “waging war on God".
More than 250 people were executed in Iran last year, including at least four convicted while minors, said Mr Rehman. More than 230 people have already been put to death this year, including nine women and one juvenile, who was executed in secret.
Worse still, said Mr Rehman, Iranian leaders who have been accused of serious abuses “remain in powerful positions, including at the highest level of public office”.
“The presidential elections in June this year clearly highlighted this point,” he added.
Mr Rehman has previously called for Ebrahim Raisi, who was in August sworn in as Iran’s president, to be investigated over his role in the state-ordered executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
Iran executes more people than any other country in the world apart from China, Amnesty International said.