According to Mehr news agency, Iran’s chief justice, Ayatollah Mohseni Gorkani, told his students in an ethics class that “our life, tranquility and peace depend on executions”. After reading verses from the Quran, Ayatollah Gorkani further stated executions are dictated by the Holy book and must be done in order to preserve tranquility of life and peace in the society.
Gorkani went on to describe the role of the judiciary by saying that the critics of the Iranian judiciary “do not understand that the current security in the country is in the hands of the judges of the judiciary.” He furthered echoed the same theme by stating” judges and judiciary staff spent all their efforts to protect rights and institutionalize security in society”.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is executing prisoners at an alarming rate. According to International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Iran is executing one person every eight hours. Since the beginning of 2011, Iran has executed 87 people on various charges. Many of those given death sentences are political prisoners who oppose the cleric rule in Iran.
According to Aaron Rhodes of International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “the Iranian Judiciary is on an execution binge orchestrated by the intelligence and security agencies”. Iranian judges are widely believed to lack independence and their decisions are frequently subordinated to the wishes of security agencies.
The actual number of prisoners executed in Iran is difficult to verify but many believe is higher than is reported. Mass executions are sometimes carried out in Iranian prisons. This year, more than hundred people were executed in a mass hanging in Vakilabad prison, according to International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
The high rate of executions in Iran has prompted the UN to call on Iran to halt its execution of prisoners.
Several Iranians with dual citizenships or permanent residency abroad have been arrested and sentenced to death. Last month, Iran executed an Iranian woman with Dutch citizenship. Another Iranian citizen residing in Canada has been sentenced to death but that sentence has not yet been carried out.
The Dutch government has suspended its formal relations with Iran over the hanging of Zahra Bahrami, an Iranian with Dutch citizenship.
A spokesperson from the Canadian government expressed concern over the death sentence issued against an Iranian computer programmer and a permanent residence of Canada.
In 2003, an Iranian-Canadian journalist was arrested and later murdered by Iranian security agents while in a Tehran prison. The 54 year old Zahra Kazemi was brutally tortured and raped in the hands of her Iranian interrogators. Canadian-Iranian relations have been frosty ever since.