28 February 2018 :
Iran’s justice minister said a recent reform of its drug laws should lead to fewer executions after the U.N. Secretary General said he remained alarmed about their high number - nearly 500 last year.
As Ali Reza Avai addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council, protesters rallied outside against the senior official who is on European Union and Swiss sanctions lists over alleged involvement in violations including arbitrary arrests and a rise in executions while he was president of the Tehran judiciary.
Avai was a senior judiciary official during the 1980s and the Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group, accuses him of playing a role in the Islamic Republic’s execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
Attempts by Reuters to reach the Iranian foreign and justice ministries as well as its diplomatic mission in Geneva for comment were not successful.
About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the United Nations’s European headquarters in Geneva to protest against Avai’s participation in the rights council session.
Avai told the forum that in Iran, the Islamic penal code and criminal procedure code had been revised to be more efficient and safeguard the rights of the accused.
“In this context the counter-narcotics law was amended. As a result, executions related to drug crimes will decrease remarkably,” he said.