subjective or discretionary considerations the application of which is not reasonably foreseeable.”8 The
lack of precision and clarity about the crime of moharebeh, for instance, grants judges with broad
In November 2017, the law on drug trafficking was amended, replacing the mandatory death penalty with
a prison term of up to 30 years for non-violent drug-related offences and increasing the quantity of drugs
required for a death sentence to be imposed. However, mandatory death sentences for numerous drugrelated offences were retained and a number of crimes were transformed into capital crimes for first-time
offenders in specific circumstances. 9 In 2019, reportedly 30 individuals were executed on drug-related
charges.10 The Human Rights Committee has consistently underscored that drug-related offences do not
meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” and that the death penalty should not be applied to them.11
Despite the existence of several means and mechanisms that accept complaints regarding the violation of
rights in Iran, such as the Judge’s Disciplinary Court, the Article 90 Parliamentary Commission and, in
general, any appeals courts including the Supreme Court, there is little evidence to suggest that these
complaints are properly investigated and adjudicated. Iran does not have any administrative processes or
independent human rights monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure the prohibition of capital punishment.
Between January 2015 and December 2018, the Islamic Republic of Iran reportedly executed at least
2,303 people.12 Reports received by OHCHR indicated a decrease in the number of executions between
2017 and 2018 (437 in 2017 compared to 207 in 2018 for the same period). 13 On the other hand, ECPM
and Iran Human Rights reported at least 273 executions in 2018, 273 in 2019 and 280 in 2020, mostly
during the COVID-19 pandemic. 1415 In 2019, Iran was the second country with the highest number of
reported executions, behind China.16 17 18
OHCHR continues to receive reports indicating that death sentences are imposed following proceedings
that do not respect due process and fair trial standards.19 20 Similarly, the NGOs Abdorrahman
Boroumand Center, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Impact Iran and Human Rights Activists
in Iran, documented numerous violations of fair trial in the Islamic Republic of Iran. These include


UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), General comment no. 36, Article 6 (Right to Life), 3 September 2019, CCPR/C/GC/35,
available at:
9 Drug trafficking law, Articles 8 and 45
10 ECPM, Iran Human Rights,
11 CCPR/C/PAK/CO/1, para. 17; CCPR/C/THA/CO/2, para. 17; CCPR/C/KWT/CO/3, para. 22; A/71/372, para. 48; and Human
Rights Committee, general comment No. 36.
Amnesty International,
13 Report of the UN Secretary General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 2019,
15 ECPM, Iran Human Rights,
16 Amnesty International,
17 See more: Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
18 See more: Human Rights Activists in Iran
See the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran available from ListReports.aspx; and A/73/299
20 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 28 January 2020,


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