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2021 Executions Based on Charges

10 May 22
2021 Executions Based on Charges

From the 2021Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran:

While multiple offences are punishable by death, the charges leading to the most executions in recent years have been murder, drug-related offences, moharebeh, efsad-fil-arz, baghy and rape/sexual assault.

The important point to note is the systematic denial of legal due process, unfair trials, use of torture and duress, forced confessions and lack of a transparent and independent judiciary in Iran. The charges in each case therefore, are the official account and charges by Iranian authorities, and have not been confirmed by independent sources.


The chart above shows the distribution of each charge used for executions in 2021. For the fiftth year in a row, murder charges accounted for the majority of executions.


Murder charges accounted for the majority of all executions in 2021 with 55% of those executed having been sentenced to qisas, which is a decrease compared to 79% in 2020. 38% of executions were for drug-related charges, an increase from 9.4% in 2020. The security charges of moharebeh (enmity against God), efsad-fil-arz (corruption on earth) and baghy (armed rebellion) accounted for 4% of all executions, and 3% were for rape and sexual assault. There is no information about the charges against one of those confirmed to have been executed.

Of the charges leading to execution in 2021, murder and rape/sexual assault are heard before the Criminal Courts, while drug-related and the security charges of moharebeh, efsad-fil-arz and baghy fall within the Revolutionary Courts’ jurisdiction.

Read full report.

2021 executions at a glance

  • At least 333 people were executed in 2021, a 25% increase compared to 267 in 2020 
  • 55 executions (16.5%) were announced by official sources compared to an average of 33% in  2018-2020
  • 83.5% of all executions included in the 2021 report, i.e. 278 executions, were not announced by the authorities
  • At least 183 executions (55% of all executions) were for murder charges
  • At least 126 (38 %) were executed for drug-related charges compared to 25 (10%) in 2020
  • None of the drug-related executions were reported by official sources
  • For the first time in more than 15 years, no public executions were reported
  • At least 2 juvenile offenders were among those executed
  • At least 17 women were executed compared to 9 in 2020
  • At least 139 executions in 2021 and more than 3,758 executions since 2010 have been based on death sentences issued by the Revolutionary Courts
  • At least 705 prisoners sentenced to death for murder charges were forgiven by the families of the murder victims per qisas laws