Iran's authoritarian regime has secretly executed hundreds of prisoners, according to a new UN report detailing growing rights abuses in the Islamic republic.
The mysterious executions at Vakilabad prison in Mashhad in eastern Iran were highlighted in a report compiled by Ahmed Shaheed, the new UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran.
Shaheed, who assumed responsibility for the mandate on August 1, billed this as an interim report cataloging the most recent trends in the human rights situation in Iran.
The report, which is to be presented to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, details a raft of abuses from the denial of women's rights to torture, but the most shocking data was the skyrocketing rate of executions.
The report, obtained by AFP after first appearing on the Foreign Policy website, said 200 officially announced executions had taken place in 2011 with at least 83, including those of three political prisoners, in January alone.
"Furthermore, authorities reportedly conducted more than 300 secret executions at Vakilabad prison in 2010," the report said.
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"Vakilabad officials, in violation of Iranian law, allegedly carried out the executions without the knowledge or presence of the inmates' lawyers or families and without prior notification to those executed," it said.
"It has also been reported that at least 146 secret executions have taken place to date in 2011."
Shaheed also noted that four percent of executions stipulated no charges, that 100 juveniles were on death row, and that more than 100 executions this year alone were for drug-related offenses.
Human Rights Watch counted 388 executions in Iran in 2010, while Amnesty International put the figure at 252, ranking the Islamic republic second only to China in the number of people put to death last year.
Tehran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order, and that it is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.
Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are among the crimes punishable by death in Iran.