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Fate of 11 Prisoners Sentenced to Death on Drug-Related Charges Unknown; International Community Should Not Relent Pressure Calling on the Islamic Republic of Iran to Halt Executions

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Fate of 11 Prisoners Sentenced to Death on Drug-Related Charges Unknown; International Community Should Not Relent Pressure Calling on the Islamic Republic of Iran to Halt Executions

(16 October 2012) – Justice for Iran, Iran Human Rights and Iran Human Rights Documentation Center join to express their continuing concern about the fate of Saeed Sedighi and ten other individuals who have been sentenced to death by the Islamic Republic of Iran on drug-related charges and whose executions were scheduled to be carried out last week.  While international pressure, including a statement from UN Special Rapporteurs calling for a halt to the executions, seems to have at least temporarily prevented the implementation of the death sentences, the current whereabouts of these prisoners are unknown. 

On Wednesday, October 10, the World Day against the Death Penalty, reports surfaced that Saeed Sedighi, Abbas Namaki, Mohammad Ali Rabiei, Hamid Rabiei, Ali Darvish, and six other individuals would be executed at Evin prison the following day.  The announcement followed joint action by several NGOs on World Day against the Death Penalty calling on the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and donor countries to cease funding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s anti-drug trafficking programs, which results in hundreds of executions of prisoners convicted on drug-related charges each year.  The executions were then postponed from Thursday, October 11 to Saturday, October 13 but due to efforts by NGOs to publicize the news of these executions, widespread media coverage of the executions including interviews with Sedighi’s mother and brother and timely international action from UN Special Rapporteurs, subsequent reports indicated that the executions were not carried out.

The efforts of NGOs, family members of the prisoners and the international community to bring attention to this issue should be commended.  While the imprisonment of political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience in Iran has previously been the focus of sustained international campaigns calling for their release, the campaign to halt the execution of the eleven prisoners marks the first time executions for drug-related offenses have been personalized, and that the profiles of the individuals involved has been elevated to a matter of significant international concern.

However the effort to halt the execution of these eleven prisoners is not over.  While it appears that the executions have at least temporarily been stayed, Majid Sedighi—the brother of Saeed Sedighi—who was just released after being detained last Thursday, October 11 for his interviews with Farsi media outlets that broadcast outside of Iran, indicates that the eleven prisoners, although not executed, are currently being held in Ward 7 of Evin prison.  No one has been in direct contact with the prisoners—family members have not been able to speak to their loved ones and lawyers have not had access.  With no official indication of the location and status of the eleven prisoners, they can be executed at any time.

In light of the above, Justice for Iran, Iran Human Rights and the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center call on relevant UN bodies, including the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the international community to intervene to save the lives of these eleven prisoners. Although the temporary stay of the executions is encouraging, the fate of these prisoners is far from definite—and the international community should not waver in its focus in calling for the immediate halt of these executions and a moratorium on the death penalty in Iran.

For further information please contact:

Shadi Sadr

Executive Director of Justice for Iran

Email: shadi.sadr@justiceforiran.org

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam

Spokesperson of Iran Human Rights

Email: mail@iranhr.net

Phone: +47 91742177

Gissou Nia

Executive Director

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

Email: gnia@iranhrdc.org

Phone: +1 203 654 9342

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