19 April 2020 :
Executions for Drug Related Charges In 2019.
Iran Human Rights, in its "Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran in 2019", addresses the topic of "Drug sentences". The 12th annual report on the death penalty of Iran Human Rights (IHR) and ECPM (see NtC 31 March 2020) provides, among other things, an in-depth analysis on the topic of death sentences for drug trafficking.
According to reports gathered by IHR, at least 30 people were executed for drug offences in 2019. Only one of 1 of these 30 executions was disclosed by the government media. 30 executions represent a 25% increase compared to 2018, and a 90% reduction compared to 2017. This shows that the amendments to the Anti-Narcotics law which were enforced in November 2017 have, for two years in a row, led to a significant decrease in the number of executions for drug offences.
According to IHR reports, drug related executions have been 409 in 2010, 509 in 2011, 439 in 2012, 331 in 2013, 367 in 2014, 642 in 2015, 296 in 2016, 231 in 2017, 24 in 2018, and 30 in 2019.
More than two years ago, on November 14, 2017, a new amendment to the Iranian Anti-Narcotics Law came into force. This led to a significant drop in the number of drug-related executions in 2018 and 2019. However, as mentioned in the annual report of 2018, IHR expressed its worries about “disproportionation between crime and punishment: most prisoners whose death sentences were commuted have been sentenced to 30 years in prison, regardless of the type and degree of the crime”.
It seems Iranian MPs decided to address the issue in Parliament on December 22, 2019. On that day, members of Parliament voted to reduce the jail term for drug offenders by half for those who are arrested for the first time for drug offenses. By coming into force, the bill can solve the aforementioned disproportion between crime and punishment.
As mentioned in previous reports, the issue of due process has not been mentioned in the new amendments. All drug offences are processed by the Revolutionary Courts. Reports collected by IHR show that those arrested for drug offences are systematically subjected to torture during the weeks after their arrest. Often they have no access to a lawyer while in detention, and by the time the lawyer enters the case they have already “confessed” to the crime. Trials at the Revolutionary Courts are often very short and there is little the lawyer can do. The issue of due process and fair trials has not been addressed by the new amendments to the Anti-Narcotics Law.