CAIRO: Iran used the death penalty in an alarmingly increasing manner last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in Cairo while launching their global rights report.
The New York-based organization reported that the country had the highest execution rate for minors.
Iran executed at least three children in 2011, one of them in public, while more than 100 juvenile offenders remain on death row, the report said. Iranian law allows capital punishment for those who have reached puberty, defined as 9 years for girls and 15 years for boys.
The number of executions increased after the entry into force in December 2010 of an amended anti-narcotics law. Since then, more than 400 prisoners were executed – including 67 drug offenders in January alone, HRW said.
Crimes punishable by death include espionage, sodomy, adultery and apostasy.
In 2011, Iranian authorities targeted lawyers, human rights activists, students and journalists; refused to allow regime critics to hold demonstrations and used force to break up massive demonstrations in Tehran and other major cities in support of the uprisings in the Arab world.
The New York-based group charged that the government continues to shut down newspapers, and target journalists and bloggers, accusing them of crimes such as “propaganda against the state.”
According to Reporters Without Borders, there were 49 journalists and bloggers in prison as of October.