Three UN Special Rapporteurs on Thursday condemned [press release] Iran for recently executing four members of the Ahwazi Arab minority. Three brothers, Abd al-Rahman Heidarian, Taha Heidarian and Jamshid Heidarian, along with Ali Sharifi, were executed [AI report, PDF] on or around June 19 in the Southwestern province of Khuzestan. The Special Rapporteurs criticized the alleged unfair trials [AI report, PDF] that resulted in the executions:
Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns remain about due process and fairness of trials in cases involving the death penalty in Iran. Under international law, the death penalty is the most extreme form of punishment, which, if it is used at all, should be imposed only for the most serious crimes. Defendants in death penalty cases should also receive fair trial guarantees stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Iran in 1975. Any death sentence undertaken in contravention of those international obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution.The Rapporteurs urged the country to cease all death penalties for crimes that are not the most serious and to respect the right to fair trials of individuals. The four executed individuals were among five men who were arrested in April 2011 during a protest, and who were convicted of Moharebeh, enmity against God, and Fasad-fil Arz, corruption on earth.
Iran has been criticized for its detentions and harsh sentences, especially against human rights defenders. Last week, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy [official website] and Vice President of the Commission Catherine Ashton [official profile] criticized [JURIST report] the country for its treatment of minorities and demanded an immediate halt to its discriminatory policies. In May, a group of UN human rights experts called on Iran [JURIST report] to grant human rights defenders the opportunity to carry out their legitimate activities and to take measures so that they receive adequate protections. In January 2011, the prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced [JURIST report] to 11 years for "acting against national security" and "making propaganda against the system." She was the lawyer for Arash Rahmanipour, who was arrested and executed [JURIST report] for his role in the post-election protests on charges of being an enemy of God.