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UN rights chief calls for an end to executions for drug offences in Iran

14 Apr 16
UN rights chief calls for an end to executions for drug offences in Iran

Iran Human Rights, April 14, 2016: According to a press release by the UNHCR the United Nations human rights chief today appealed to Iran to halt executions for drug offences until the new Parliament debates a proposed law that would remove the mandatory death penalty for drug crimes.

“Given the broadening recognition in Iran that death penalty does not deter drug crime and that anti-narcotics laws need to be reformed, I call on Iran to take the important first step of instituting a moratorium on the use of death penalty,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

According to Iran Human Rights' annual report on the death penalty in 2015 at least 969 people were executed in Iran – the highest rate in more than two decades. More than 638 of those executed (66%) were charged for drug offences. 

In December last year, 70 parliamentarians presented a bill to amend the existing mandatory death penalty for drug offences. The bill provides for life imprisonment in such cases. It remains to be seen whether it will be taken forward in the new Parliament.

Pointing at the on going debate inside Iran Mr. Zeid said: “There have been encouraging signs from within Iran towards reform of the law, from the judiciary, the executive and the legislature and I hope the new Parliament will adopt these changes. But it is unfortunate that executions for drug-related offences – crimes that clearly do not meet the threshold under international human rights law for application of the death penalty – continue to be carried out in the meantime.”

Last weekend IHR reported about the execution of five people in the prison of Rasht- three of them for drug charges. One of those executed, Rashid Kouhi, was sentenced to death in 2012 after he was found in possession of 800 grams of crystal meth. He was executed last Saturday in Gilan province in northern Iran.

Earlier today OHR reported about the execution of one woman charged with drug trafficking in eastern Iran.