Iran again led the globe in the number of state-sanctioned executions in 2015, killing 1,084 people, which marks the highest rate of executions in the country in 25 years, according to statistics compiled by human rights and advocacy organizations.
Iran, which continues "to execute more individuals per capita than any other country in the world," according to the United Nations, carried out an average of three executions per day in 2015, according to numbers issued by a leading Iranian human rights organization.
Since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who was celebrated by many in the West as a moderate reformer, executions in Iran have soared, hitting record numbers in each of the last several years. The U.N. recorded 753 executions in 2014, though some human rights organizations have claimed that the number is higher.
Iran executed an American citizen in November.
Iran began 2016 with a massive round of executions, hanging 13 individuals on Jan. 6 and killing a total of 25 people in the first week of the year, according to separate statistics issued by United Against a Nuclear Iran, an advocacy organization that has been highly critical of Iran’s human rights record.
Critics of Iran’s human rights record, which continues to be ranked among the worst in the world, have said that the rising numbers of executions highlight the Islamic Republic’s disregard for the rule of law.
"By beginning the new year with an execution spree, Iran is signaling that it will continue to defy the international community and basic standards of human rights," former Ambassador Mark Wallace, the organization’s CEO, said in a statement.
Wallace warned that Iran’s behavior is a sign that the regime is growing more hardline despite claims by the Obama administration that the recent Iran nuclear deal would moderate the nation.
"Proponents of the nuclear agreement signed in July declared that it would lead to moderation of the Iranian regime," Wallace said. "Instead, just the opposite has ensued—Iran’s conduct has worsened. At the pace it has begun 2016, Iran will once again execute more than 1,000 of its citizens this year."
A large number of those executed are from religious minority groups, such as Christian converts, Bahá'í adherents, Sunni Muslims, and Kurds.
Political dissidents have also been targeted by the Iranian regime, often being executed after legal proceedings that international observers have deemed as unfair.
Iran also remains one of the few nations to execute children and minors, as well as women claiming self-defense against rapists and homosexuals.
Most of these individuals are hanged, often in public.
"Iran executes the majority of convicts by hanging within prisons," according to a fact sheet distributed by United Against a Nuclear Iran. "The regime, however, also regularly carries out executions in public."
Iran is reported to have executed at least 57 people in public in 2015. This amounts to an average of more than one public execution a week.
"In many of these cases, the victim is publicly hanged from a construction crane, an especially slow and painful method of execution," the fact sheet said.
In at least one case, pictures showed Iran using cranes made by a company that is a major contractor with the U.S. government.
The Obama administration is set to lift many U.S. sanctions on Iran but insists that it will retain sanctions targeting Iranian human rights abuses.