UN rights experts decry Iran’s secret execution of Kurdish prisoner

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UN human rights experts condemned in the strongest terms the arbitrary execution of Iranian Kurdish prisoner Heidar Ghorbani as a serious violation of Iran’s obligations under international human rights law.

Mr. Ghorbani, a Kurdish prisoner, was executed in secret in Sanandaj Central Prison at dawn on 19 December. His execution took place without prior notice to his family and lawyer, and his body was secretly buried by prison authorities.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran executed Mr. Ghorbani in secret, on the basis of overbroad provisions, following a deeply flawed process, and while his case was still under consideration by the Supreme Court,” said Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Mr. Ghorbani was arrested in October 2016, in connection with the killing of three men affiliated with the Basij paramilitary forces – reportedly by individuals associated with an armed opposition group.

He had denied membership of the group, along with any involvement in the killing.

And notwithstanding that a Revolutionary Court concluded that he was unarmed, they still sentenced him to death on a charge of “baghy” (armed rebellion) following an unfair trial and allegations that he was tortured, said the OHCHR release.

“We deeply regret that, despite our multiple interventions on Mr. Ghorbani’s case, the authorities chose to proceed with his execution,” the UN experts said.

In the context of continuing protests and widespread dissatisfaction with the authorities, they worried that such an arbitrary execution had been carried out to “spread fear”.

The Special Rapporteurs described the act as “yet another sign of clear disregard for their obligations under international human rights law – and for international human rights mechanisms”.

“We call on the Government to halt the imposition and execution of the death penalty,” they underscored.

Previously, the independent experts had raised concerns with the Government of Iran over the death sentence, torture allegations, and fair-trial violations against Mr. Ghorbani and also brought the matter to public attention.

The Iranian government sent comments to OHCHR in response. (Source: UN News)

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