Iran has seen a “shocking” surge in executions in 2015, with the number of “judicially sanctioned killings” soon to surpass the total put to death in all of 2014, international human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said Thursday.
Iran has executed 694 people since the beginning of January — an average of more than three people a day, according to the report. Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program, estimated that at this rate, Iran will execute more than 1,000 by the end of the year.
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 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.
“It is especially harrowing that there is no end in sight for this theater of cruelty with Iran’s gallows awaiting thousands more death row prisoners,” Boumedouha said.
Iranian authorities have said that 80 percent of people on death row — a number that Amnesty says 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.
Some dissidents, as well as “members of ethnic and religious minorities convicted of ‘enmity against God,’” are also executed by the Islamic Republic, according to Amnesty.
Iran has been ranked second in an annual list of countries with the most executions since 2005, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, based in Washington, D.C., citing Amnesty statistics. China has topped the list for every year over the past decade, with over 1,000 alleged executions. The United States has consistently ranked among the top 10 and was fifth in 2014.