Dozens of prisoners were sent to the gallows in the final days of the Persian calendar year, including a mass execution of six prisoners on February 17th in Birjand Central Prison, southern Iran, leaving many families mourning the loss of their beloveds during the Iranian national celebrations.

At least 174 prisoners were executed in the first three months of 2017, most for drug trafficking. The actual number, however, could be much higher.

Kazem Gharibabadi, deputy of international affairs in the human rights office of Iran’s judiciary, recently made remarks over the punishments imposed on drug convicts.

“Generally, 93 percent of all executions in Iran are based on drug-related charges,” he said.

Reports indicate 40 inmates were sent to the gallows in the month of March alone, including 2 executions in public, while hundreds have also been arrested, mistreated or put to death.

In the early morning hours of March 5th an inmate in Shahrood Prison, northern Iran, and three others in Urmia Central Prison, northwest of Iran, were hanged.

At least three inmates in Karaj’s Gheselhesar Prison, west of Tehran, and two others in Garmsar Prison, southeast of Tehran, were transferred to solitary confinement, in preparation for their executions on the same day.

Nine inmates were hanged between March 6th and 8th in the prisons of Zahedan, Semnan, Gheselhesar and Garmsar.

The Iranian regime insists on continued executions of drug convicts despite repeated condemnations by the international community, including the United Nations and prominent human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, calling on Tehran to halt such rulings.

UN Secretary-General issued a 19-page report highlighting the alarming rate of executions, mostly related to drug offences.

“The majority of executions were imposed for drug-related offences – crimes that do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ as required by international law,” he said.

Iran carries out more executions per capita than any other country. The country has put thousands of people to death for drug-related crimes over the past decades while International law restricts the use of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes” and drug crimes do not fall into this category.

“Those executed were mostly sentenced for drugs offences that did not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” under international human rights law. The Supreme Court ruled that those sentenced for drugs offences prior to the adoption of the 2015 Code of Criminal Procedure had the right to appeal, but many death row prisoners remained unaware of this development,” the annual Amnesty report about Iran reads in part.