Secret Group Executions Continue At Ghezel Hessar Prison: 25 More Hanged on 3 July

Jul 8, 20110 comments

Local sources told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that  25 prisoners were hanged in a secret group execution inside Ghezel Hessar Prison in Karaj.  According to these sources, on Sunday, 3 July, 25 prisoners most of whom had drug trafficking charges were executed en mass inside the Ghezel Hessar Prison.  All those executed were from Detention Center (Unit) 2 of Ghezel Hessar Complex.  The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran strongly demands the Iranian Judiciary to provide information about all executions at this prison complex and particularly those carried out on 3 July, and to end its practice of covering up group executions. These executions were carried out in the same way that the previously reported secret executions in Mashad and Birjand took place, where the executions took place without the knowledge and presence of families and lawyers of the death row prisoners.  According to Iranian laws, families and lawyers of the inmates must be informed about the time and date of executions and be present at the execution location. The  sources told the Campaign that during the past two years, “dozens of prisoners” have been executed in the same way at this prison facility and news about those executions have never been formally announced.  The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has repeatedly warned about secret executions inside Mashad’s Vakilabad Prison, Birjand Prison, Taybad Prison, Karoon Prison in Ahvaz, and Orumiyeh Prison. Since Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi’s appointment as Attorney General two years ago, Iran has seen widespread executions in its prisons.  Not only have the statistics for announced executions increased, but secret unannounced executions have also been on the rise.  According to reports made available to the Campaign, on some weeks the number of unannounced executions are several times more than the announced numbers. On 12 October, Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei said in a press conference that “according to orders from the Head of the Judiciary for uniform handling of drug traffickers, their cases have been delegated to the Prosecutor General,” and that Iranian prosecutors nationwide should try drug-related suspects in the shortest time possible and not show any mercy in implementing verdicts.  He even implicitly stated during the press conference that in some cases, low-level hirelings might have been executed when he said, “Some of the people who are arrested with drugs are not the main drug traffickers, and they don’t benefit from this materially, but the main drug trafficker deceives these people while he is sitting in a safe place and another person is tried in his place, and even executed.” (Fars News Agency) According to Gholamhossein Esmaili, Head of the Iranian Prisons Organization, the Ghezel Hessar Prison in Karaj is the most crowded prison in the country.  Esmaili said at a press conference that Ghezel Hessar holds up to three times more prisoners than its capacity.  Some sources claim that the number of prisoners at this facility exceeds 30,000.  Iranian Judiciary authorities have so far refrained from announcing the exact number of inmates and those on death row at Ghezel Hessar Prison. Detention Center (Unit) 2 of the Ghezel Hessar Prison in Karaj has 8 halls and during the recent months “up to 5,000 inmates” have been kept in it.  Most inmates inside Detention Center 2 are death row inmates who have been involved in cases of transportation, possession, and buying and selling drugs.  On 25 May there were media reports of a group execution of 10 inmates inside this facility.  Iranian judicial authorities have so far maintained silence about secret executions at Ghezel Hessar Prison. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has repeatedly asked the Iranian Judiciary to act transparently with respect to the executions carried out inside the Iranian prisons and to end its secretive conduct in this area.  Considering the serious doubts about the judicial processes of the said cases, the Campaign condemns the rushed executions which lack even basic due process and demands an end to this deadly trend.  The Campaign further demands clarification of the unknown dimensions of the executions of the recent two years inside different Iranian prisons.  The Campaign believes that the “policy of execution therapy” vis a vis the drug crisis engulfing the Iranian society has been ineffective and has only been implemented to create fear in the society.