A U.N. investigator says executions in Iran have been rising at "an exponential rate" since 2005 and could top 1,000 this year as the country cracks down on drug offenders.
Ahmed Shaheed said in a report to the General Assembly circulated Tuesday that Iran executes more individuals per capita than any other country in the world.
He said the majority of executions violate international laws that ban the use of capital punishment for non-violent offenses and for juveniles and he urged Iran to impose a moratorium on the death penalty for all but the "most serious crimes.".
Shaheed, the special investigator on the human rights situation in Iran, said 69 percent of executions during the first six months of 2015 were reportedly for drug-related offenses, reflecting the rising drug influx in the country.
In July, Amnesty International reported a “surge” in executions in 2015.
As of July 15, authorities in the country had only officially recognized 246 executions. But Amnesty received “credible reports” of another 448 unreported executions.
Iranian authorities have said that 80 percent of people on death row — a number that Amnesty said equates to “several thousand” — are there due to drug-related offenses, according to the report. Iran’s anti-narcotics law requires death sentences for trafficking more than 11 pounds of opiates and more than 66 pounds of cocaine, heroin and illegal synthetic drugs.
Iranian authorities have historically only acknowledge a fraction of their overall executions, the rights group added.
In 2014, Tehran acknowledged 289 of 743 total executions in 2014, the report said.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press