Iran Death Penalty Cases Slammed by EU Official

     (CN) – The European Union’s counterpart to the U.S. State Department condemned Iran on Wednesday after it confirmed the execution of 35 people in one week alone this month.
     Iran’s rate of executions for the first five months of 2012 “confirmed the country as one of the world’s leading users of the death penalty – as was also the case in 2011,” according to a statement from Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
     “Thousands of individuals remain at risk for execution, even for acts which are not considered as among the most serious crimes according to international minimum standards,” Ashton said, calling on Iran to “commute all such death sentences.”
     Iran’s actions go against a worldwide trend to abolish the death penalty, the official said, adding that the EU has a “strong and principled” opposition to capital punishment.
     “[The EU] calls on Iran, as it does all states which insist on maintaining capital punishment, to halt pending executions and to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty,” Ashton said.
     Capital punishment is legal in the United States, though 17 states and the District of Columbia have banned its use. A 2010 Gallup poll showed that 64 percent of Americans favor the death penalty for someone convicted of murder, down from 68 percent in 2001.

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