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Legacy of Hassan Rouhani’s first presidential period: Dialogue with the West and more death penalty in Iran

13 Apr 17
Legacy of Hassan Rouhani’s first presidential period: Dialogue with the West and more death penalty in Iran

IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS (APR 13, 2017): The 9th annual report of the organization Iran Human Rights (IHR) on the death penalty in Iran shows that in 2016 at least 530 people were executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran.


The 2016 annual report is being published with only a few months left in Hassan Rouhani’s first presidential period. A review of Mr. Rouhani’s 3.5 years as President shows that the number of executions under his presidency was significantly higher than the annual executions under the previous two periods under Ahmadinejad.

The diagram (left) show the execution trends under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (first round from June 2005 to June 2009 and second round from July 2009 to June 2013) and 3.5 years of the presidency of Hassan Rouhani (July 2013 to December 2016). The figures are based on the reported numbers and the actual numbers are probably higher. There are bigger error margins for the numbers under the first round of Ahmadinejad’s presidency.


Despite the excellent diplomatic relations between IRI and the EU after the Election of Hassan Rouhani in 2013, the issue of the death penalty has not been on the agenda of the bilateral dialogue between EU and Iran. This might be the reason why no specific reforms or changes in the policy with regards to the death penalty were applied during Rouhani’s period. The EU has admitted that human rights and the issue of the death penalty were not on the agenda prior to 2016, and that for the first time in April 2016, the EU signalled that after the nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions, “frank exchanges on human rights issues” will be part of the renewed EU-Iran dialogue.  The EU also mentioned in its October 2016 report on Iran-EU relations that “EU sees a major objective within the political dialogue to reduce the application of the death penalty; calls for an immediate moratorium on the carrying out of death sentences in Iran”.