http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/executions-in-iran-near-700-amnesty-says-country-out-of-step/article/439176

Iran executes hundreds, country 'out of step' with world

Posted Jul 24, 2015 by Marcus Hondro
Amnesty International is monitoring Iran and keeping track of executions and say the data so far this year is startling. The human rights group says Iran has executed an incredible 694 people already in 2015. And the killing continues.
Gohardasht prison in Iran.
Gohardasht prison in Iran.
Ensie & Matthias
Executions in Iran in 2015
The headline for a story up on the Amnesty International website called it an "execution spree" and 694 executions in seven months — about three per day — surely earns such a description. The human rights group said those numbers show the state-sanctioned killing “reveals just how out of step Iran is with the rest of the world when it comes to the use of the death penalty.”
“Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale,” said Boumedouha of Amnesty International said in a statement.
Iran claims the numbers are lower — only 246 — but Amnesty International insists their figures are accurate. In addition to the executions — by hanging — Amnesty International reports that due process is more often not followed. Many are convicted on drug offences, or lesser offences.
"They are imposed (the death sentences) either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty," Amnesty International says. "Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation."
Creating fear over drugs
Mr. Boumedouha believes Iran is using the death penalty so liberally in order to create a climate of fear around drugs; however, he maintains that it is not working. "There is not a shred of evidence to show that this is an effective method of tackling crime," he said.
A letter that went online in June from 54 prisoners on death row in a prison near Tehran speaks of the plight of those facing death. Most of them were marginalized before their arrests and did not have adequate means of support. Those who turned to drugs did so, they say, from necessity.
"We are the victims of a state of hunger, poverty and misery," the death row letter reads. "Hurled down into the hollows of perdition by force and without our will.
"If we had jobs," it continues. "If we did not need help, if we could turn our lives around and stop our children from going hungry, why should we have gone down a path that guaranteed us our death?"
Amnesty International's Boumedouha says that "if Iran’s authorities maintain this horrifying execution rate we are likely to see more than 1,000 state-sanctioned deaths by the year’s end."
By contrast, to date the U.S. has executed 17 persons in 2015.