Hassan Rouhani, the president of clerical regime has failed to to allow greater freedom of expression and there has been a sharp rise in executions since his election, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.
In a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Ban highlighted the prevalent use of capital punishment in Iran and called for the release of activists, lawyers and journalists as well as political prisoners that were in custody for exercising their rights to free speech and assembly.
“The new administration has not made any significant improvement in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion, despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in,” Ban said.
“Both offline and online (news) outlets continue to face restrictions including closure,” he said.
Iranians expressing dissenting views or beliefs still face arrest and prosecution, he added.
Between 500 and 625 people were executed last year, including 57 in public, he said, echoing concerns by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
More than 40 people were executed during the first half of January 2014, Ban said.
“The new government has not changed its approach regarding the application of the death penalty and seems to have followed the practice of previous administrations, which relied heavily on the death penalty to combat crime,” Ban said.