Tags: Iran | United Nations | iran | drugs | executions | United Nations

Iran Executions for Drug-Related Offenses on the Rise

By    |   Tuesday, 19 May 2015 01:38 PM

The Iranian government has executed almost 250 people for drug offenses since the beginning of the year just as the United Nations is preparing to roll out a multimillion-dollar program to help Iranian authorities in their anti-drug efforts.

According to The Huffington Post, many of the people who were executed were low-level and nonviolent offenders, human rights groups say, and drug-related executions appear to be on the rise.

"If Iran continues to execute people convicted of drug-related offenses at this rate, the country will, by the end of the year, have put nearly twice as many people to death for such charges as human rights groups say it did in 2014," the Post said.

Iran uses execution to punish a range of different drug offenses. Some have been executed after being convicted multiple times of planting opium poppies, coca plants, or cannabis seeds with the intent to produce drugs. Execution is also imposed after multiple convictions of smuggling more than five kilograms of opium or marijuana into the country, or for buying, possessing, carrying or hiding more than five kilograms of those drugs.

Smuggling, dealing, producing, distributing, or exporting more than 30 grams of drugs such as heroin, morphine, and cocaine can also lead to the death penalty.

Iranian authorities claim that those put to death are usually involved in organized crime or armed smuggling, but human rights groups say that the judicial system often targets the most marginalized and vulnerable groups, the Post reported.

"It is pretty murky exactly what involvement in the drug business a lot of these defendants have," said Elise Auerbach, an Iran specialist for Amnesty International.

Some activists believe that Iranian authorities may be using drug prosecutions in part "to target and execute political dissidents or others who speak out against the government," said Faraz Sanei, a researcher with the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has offered to support Iran in fighting drug trafficking and is in the final stages of developing a multiyear, multimillion-dollar program aimed at combating the country's illicit drug trade.

The Huffington Post said that the move could lead to more arrests and hence executions.

Nevertheless, the U.N. opposes the use of capital punishment for drug crimes. The organization issued guidance that reads, "If, following requests for guarantees and high-level political intervention, executions for drug related offences continue, UNODC may have no choice but to employ a temporary freeze or withdrawal of support."

"If the UNODC followed its own human rights policy it would have ended funding for Iranian drug raids years ago," Dan Dolan, who works with Reprieve's death penalty team, told the Post.

"Instead it is lining up a generous five-year funding deal for Iran's brutal drug police, despite a near doubling in the rate at which Iran is hanging drug offenders. This represents a shameful disregard for human rights on the part of the UNODC, which publicly claims to oppose the death penalty while funding aggressive raids which send drug mules to death row."

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The Iranian government has executed almost 250 people for drug offenses since the beginning of the year just as the United Nations is preparing to roll out a multimillion-dollar program to help Iranian authorities in their anti-drug efforts.
iran, drugs, executions, United Nations
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2015-38-19
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 01:38 PM
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