In response to the mass execution of 15 prisoners in Jordan on March 4, several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, condemned the hangings as secretive and conducted "without transparency." This mass execution was largest ever in one day in Jordan's history. Samah Hadid of Amnesty's regional office in Beirut called the executions "a big step backwards on human rights protection in Jordan." Among the executed, 10 had been convicted for some form of terrorist activity, but Hadid expressed concern that some may have made their confessions under torture or duress. Over the past several years, more than 100 have been sentenced to death in Jordan, in hopes of deterring terrorist activities.
The Palestinian high court in Ramallah on Oct. 3 amended a previous ruling, holding that municipal elections can take place, but only in West Bank and not in the Gaza Strip. The court had previously held that the election, once scheduled for Oct. 8, would not proceed after Hamas disputed party lists drawn by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. In adjusting its previously holding, the court said that it would "implement the cabinet's decision to hold elections in all local councils except in the Gaza Strip," adding that Gaza did not have the necessary "guarantees" to hold the polls. The new election date must be decided within four weeks. Hamas has been quick to criticize the decision as politically motivated. Had the court allowed elections to take place in the Gaza Strip it would have been the first election between Hamas and Fatah since 2006. Hamas won a majority of the seats in the legislative polls in 2006, sparking a tumultuous rift in Palestinian politics, culminating in Hamas seizing the Strip from Abbas-loyal forces in 2007. No Palestinian presidential election has taken place since 2005 and Abbas has retained office since, despite expiration of his term.
International outrage over the mounting wave of executions in Iran reached another milestone Aug, 27, when 12 drug convicts were hanged at Karaj Central Prison outside Tehran. Days earlier, when the 12 were transferred to solitary confinement at the facility in preperation for the executions, the United Nations issued an urgent plea. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, called on the Islamic Republic to stay the executions immediately. After they were carried out, Shaheed's response was harsh.
Bangladesh executed a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party on Sept. 3 for war crimes committed during the country's 1971 war of independence. Mir Quasem Ali was accused of murder, confinement, torture, and inciting religious hatred. In all, five leaders of the party have been executed [BBC report] for war crimes in the country in recent years. Ali was arrested in 2010 and convicted of eight charges in 2014. He was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh (ICTB) and the sentence was upheld by the Bangladeshi Supreme Court in March. UN humans rights experts urged the government of Bangladesh to repeal the death sentence imposed on Ali for failing to meet international standards on fair trial and due process for the imposition of the death penalty.
Officials in the Iraqi governorate of Dhiqar on Aug. 21 carried out the hanging of 36 men convicted for their participation in the Camp Speicher massacre of June 2014. The event infamously involved the kidnapping and killing of 1,700 military recruits by presumed ISIS militants after the fall of the base outside Tikrit. The massacre has since been known as one of the greatest ISIS atrocities in the country. The executions were performed in Dhiqar's Nasiriyah prison and overseen by governor Yahya al-Nasseri and the justice minister. Al-Nasseri has recently fast-tracked the execution of convicted terrorists following last month's suicide bombing in Baghdad. These executions have drawn heavy criticism from advocacy groups for ignoring international judicial standards.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Aug. 5 criticized Iran for the mass execution of 20 people this week, calling the action "deplorable." The prisoners were all convicted of terrorism-related offenses, but the commissioner expressed doubt as to the fairness of those trials, deriding Iran as having expressed a "disdain" toward due process. In his statement, the commissioner called the executions a "grave injustice" and pointed out that many of those killed were Kurds or part of the Sunni religious minority.
For a third year running, Amnesty International's annual report on the death penalty notes an alarming surge in the number of executions worldwide—now reaching the highest total since 1989. At least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, a rise of more than 50% over the previous year. Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were leading the field, responsible for 89% of the executions. Iran executed at least 977 in 2015—the vast majority for drug-related crimes—compared with 743 in 2014. Those put to death included at least four who were under 18 at the time of the crime—which Amnesty called a violation of international law. Pakistan continued what Amnesty called as a "state-sanctioned killing spree" that began when a moratorium on civilian executions was lifted in December 2014. Pakistan sent at least 326 to the gallows last year, the highest annual total Amnesty has recorded for that country. Executions in Saudi Arabia rose by 76%, with at least 158 people put to death, Amnesty said. Most were beheaded, with the bodies often displayed in public.