Rights groups have expressed alarm over the numbers of women executed in Iran. (Photo: Canva)
Iran has executed more than 500 people so far in 2022, far more than in the whole of last year, a rights group said Monday.
Norway-based group Iran Human Rights told AFP at least 504 people had now been executed in Iran this year and that it was still working to confirm additional cases of people said to have been hanged.
The figure comes as concern grows that the authorities will make extensive use of the death penalty against people involved in the anti-regime protests that have erupted in Iran since September.
IHR's count includes four people who official media said were put to death on Sunday accused of working with Israel's intelligence service.
The rights group said they were executed in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj outside Tehran -- also known as Gohardasht -- within just seven months of arrest.
"These individuals were sentenced to death without due process or a fair trial behind the closed doors of the Revolutionary Court," said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam in a statement. "Their sentences lacked all legal validity."
"These executions are intended to create societal fear and divert public attention from the Islamic republic's intelligence failures," he added.
Another of those recently hanged was a woman executed on Saturday in Dastgerd in central Iran accused of murdering her father-in-law, IHR said.
Rights groups have expressed alarm over the number of women executed in Iran, often on charges of murdering partners or relatives in abusive relationships.
IHR said that the numbers executed this year are already the highest in five years.
According to its data, at least 333 people were executed in 2021, a 25 percent increase compared to 267 in 2020.
Amnesty International meanwhile put the number of recorded executions in Iran last year at 314 -- higher than in any other country worldwide, it says, while noting such data is not available for China, where it believes annual executions run into the thousands.
Six people have already been sentenced to death over Iran's protests in what IHR calls "show trials without access to their lawyers and due process."
It says 26 people, including three minors, are currently facing charges that could see them hanged.
The authorities have described those accused as rioters who attacked security forces and public buildings, but the circumstances of the cases are disputed by activists.