Iran: removal of death penalty for some drugs offences welcomed

Iran has one of the highest execution rates in the world © Amnesty International

‘If implemented properly, this long-overdue reform will spare hundreds from the gallows’ -  Magdalena Mughrabi

Responding to news that Iran will implement amended drugs laws and remove capital punishment for some drug trafficking offences, Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said:

“Iran’s deadly anti-drugs campaign has had an enormous human toll over the years, resulting in gross human rights violations in the name of ill-conceived crime prevention policies.

“The Iranian authorities have executed thousands of people for drugs offences, in blatant violation of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to the most serious crimes involving intentional killing.
“If implemented properly, this long-overdue reform will spare hundreds from the gallows, but that should be just the start. The Iranian authorities must stop using the death penalty for drug-related offences with a view to eventually abolishing it for all crimes.”

Hundreds executed each year for drugs offences

Last year, Amnesty called on the Iranian parliament to amend proposed legislation to ensure that the death penalty was prohibited for all non-lethal crimes, in line with international human rights law.

Each year Iran executes hundreds of prisoners, the vast majority of whom have been convicted of drugs offences. Most of these are from the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of Iranian society, including Afghans and ethnic and religious minorities. 

According to Iranian parliamentarians, there are currently an estimated 5,000 people on death row for such offences across the country. About 90% of them are first-time offenders aged between 20 and 30-years-old. A high-ranking Iranian official has stated that since 1988 Iran has put to death some 10,000 people for drug-related offences. 

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