A demonstrator dressed as a victim of a stoning execution protests in Berlin, Germany [File: GALLO/GETTY]

Hundreds of prisoners have been secretly executed in Iran, according to a new UN report which details growing human rights abuses in the Islamic republic.

The report, obtained by the AFP news agency, said 200 officially announced executions had taken place in 2011 with at least 83, including those of three political prisoners, in January alone.

Highlighting a jail in Mashhad, in eastern Iran, the report said "authorities reportedly conducted more than 300 secret executions at Vakilabad prison in 2010".

"It has also been reported that at least 146 secret executions have taken place to date in 2011," it said.

"Vakilabad officials, in violation of Iranian law, allegedly carried out the executions without the knowledge or presence of the inmates' lawyers or families and without prior notification to those executed."

The findings were compiled by Ahmed Shaheed, the new UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran.

Shaheed, who assumed responsibility for the mandate on August 1, billed it as an interim report cataloguing the most recent trends in the human rights situation in Iran.

He also noted that four per cent of executions stipulated no charges, that 100 juveniles were on death row, and that more than 100 executions this year alone were for drug-related offences.

The report, which is to be presented to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, details a raft of abuses from the denial of women's rights to torture, but the most shocking data was the skyrocketing rate of executions.

Human Rights Watch counted 388 executions in Iran in 2010, while Amnesty International put the figure at 252, ranking the Islamic republic second only to China in the number of people put to death last year.

Tehran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order, and that it is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are among the crimes punishable by death in Iran.

Source: Agencies