Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council

Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, said on March 4 that Iran’s increased execution rate is a positive marker of Iranian achievement. Instead of criticizing Iran for its increasing number of executions, he said, “our expectation of international organizations and the world is to be grateful for this great service to humanity.”

Speaking at the Coordinating Meeting of the Human Rights Council, Larijani said, “Unfortunately, instead of celebrating Iran, international organizations see the increased number of executions caused by Iran’s assertive confrontation with drugs as a vehicle for human rights attacks on the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

In his remarks, Larijani said that “the highest record for serious confrontation” with drug trafficking and its related crimes in the world belongs to Iran. He then accused Western governments and their political leaders of “involvement with the vast drug networks” and “benefiting from their enormous revenues for political, offensive, and even terrorist activities.”

Larijani said that the real aim of Western countries for criticizing the rate of executions in Iran is the Islamic Qisas (retribution) Law, describing Qisas as “a right for the citizens” within which “right to life” exists. Human rights activists and organizations have increasingly criticized the Islamic Republic of Iran for practices such as executions, stoning, limb amputations, and sentences such as eye gouging, which Iranian courts have been issuing in observation of the Qisas Law. Defending the punishment of stoning and executions in 2011, Mohammad Javad larijani said, “Qisas is very beautiful and important.”

In February, the UN Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) announced that Iran has executed at least 80 people in 2014. The OHCHR expressed “deep concern” about the increase in executions in Iran this year. “In just over seven weeks, at least 80 people have been executed. Some reliable sources indicate the figure could be as high as 95,” said Ravina Shamsadani, the OHCHR spokesperson. According to the OHCHR, most of the executions are for drug-related crimes.

International law states that capital punishment must be reserved for “most serious crimes,” and drug-related offenses are not considered in that category. The UN body said it was most concerned by the executions of Hadi Rashedi and Hashem Shabani Amouri, members of Iran’s Ahwaz Arab community, on charges of “enmity against God,” “corruption on Earth,” and acting against Iran’s national security.