The number of executions is down from 700 judicial executions in the first seven months of 2015. The total number of executions in 2015 was at least 966, the highest number for 25 years.
While the number of executions appears to have diminished since the end of international sanctions in January 2016, recent weeks have seen a significant increase. Around 40 people were executed in the first two weeks of the month of Ramadan, from late June to early July.
Most executions are related to drug and murder charges. Those charged with drug offences are often from poor backgrounds. Iran's Anti-Narcotics Law provides mandatory death sentences for a range of drug-related offences, including trafficking more than 5kg of narcotics derived from opium or more than 30g of heroin, morphine, cocaine or their chemical derivatives. According to Amnesty International, this is in direct breach of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the “most serious crimes” – those involving intentional killing. Drug-related offences do not meet this threshold.
Among those executed were political prisoners, women and juveniles. Many executions are staged in public squares where children witness hangings.