Iran asked to reveal how many Afghan nationals are on death row

Hassiba Hadj SahraouiA human-rights group has said that Iran must reveal how many Afghan nationals are on death row as reports that 45 Afghans were executed recently circulate.

Amnesty International said on Friday in a news release that Iranian officials have denied that number of executions and have refused to confirm how many Afghans are on death row.

Iranian jails may be holding more than 4,000 Afghans, of which as many as 3,000 may be facing the death penalty, primarily for drug-related offenses, the organization has said.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director, said, "These numbers are truly disturbing. Iran must immediately put a stop to these executions and reveal how many Afghans it has executed."

The organization further said that an estimated 1 million Afghan refugees live in Iran after fleeing more than three decades of conflict in Afghanistan.

According to Amnesty International, in Iran, trafficking more than specified amounts of illegal drugs has a mandatory death sentence. While recognizing Iran faces serious drug-trafficking, issues, the organization said it believed Iran's reliance on the use of the death penalty to combat drug-trafficking is misguided, ineffectual and an affront to human rights.

Sahraoui further said, "Sadly, these numbers only illustrate the extent to which the Iranian authorities misguidedly resort to the death penalty. Our concerns are compounded by the serious shortcomings of the Iranian criminal justice system and discrimination against Afghans in Iran." (With Inputs from Agencies)