Iran's "execution spree" is continuing full force, according to opposition activists – and at an alarming rate.
A recent Amnesty International report revealed the Islamic Republic was executing an average of three people per day, with nearly 700 people executed in the first half of 2015 alone, many for political crimes or on trumped-up charges.
At that rate, the theocratic regime is expected to surpass 2014's execution rate of 734 by mid-August.
However, it looks like that grim record may be set far sooner, as at least 31 people were reportedly executed over the past nine days.
According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), one of the most recent execution was of a 43-year-old mother, who was hanged in a prison in the city of Karaj, north-west of the capital Tehran.
"The woman, identified as Ms. Pari-Dokht Molai-Far, was hanged on Wednesday in the notorious Qezelhesar Prison," the NCRI said.
It said three unidentified men were also executed "at dawn" in Karaj on the same day, and that simultaneously five other condemned men on death row were transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for their own imminent execution.
The group named three of them as Ezzat Sabeki, Meysam Shahraki and Ali Zehi.
It did not say what charges the executed and condemned men were sentenced.
In its report last week, Amnesty said the alarming rate of execution was particularly disturbing given the fact that the courts imposing the death penalty are "completely lacking in independence and impartiality."
"Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North AfricaProgramme.
"If Iran’s authorities maintain this horrifying execution rate we are likely to see more than 1,000 state-sanctioned deaths by the year’s end."
The majority of those executed so far in 2015 have been for drug offenses – with trafficking even relatively small amounts of narcotics a crime punishable by death.
But Iran has a long record of using trumped-up narcotics charges to execute political dissidents or rights campaigners from the country's persecuted ethnic and religious minority groups such as Kurds, Baloch, Bahai and Sunni Muslims. Alternatively, political opponents or minority rights activists are regularly convicted of vague "crimes" such as "enmity against God" or "spreading corruption on earth."
"They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or acts that should not be criminalised at all, let alone attract the death penalty," Amnesty said of many of the executions reported.
"Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation," it added.
Apart from those whose death sentences have been carried out, Amnesty claims several thousand more are currently languishing on death row.