20 May 2024 :

Nearly 100 individuals – both Iraqi citizens and foreign nationals – were sentenced to death or life imprisonment on drug trafficking charges between 2023 and 2024, a spokesperson to the Interior Ministry said on May 15, 2024.
In a press conference held in Baghdad on May 15, Brigadier General Mokdad Meri described drug trafficking as a "critical threat" to Iraq's national security, vowing that authorities would maintain "high pressure" on drug networks.
Meri highlighted recent successes in the crackdown, including the seizure of 8 kilograms of narcotics and 200,000 psychoactive pills within a single week. "These operations resulted in the apprehension of 123 suspects," he said.
Iraq's drug problem has reached critical levels. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the country has become a major transit route for illegal drugs, particularly Captagon, a stimulant amphetamine. This lucrative trade fuels organized crime and terrorist networks, posing a significant threat to regional stability.
In a 2021 report, the UNODC highlighted the alarming rise of crystal meth in Iraq, warning that it is now manufactured domestically in southern border governorates.
In December 2023, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani made a controversial statement urging the president of the country to ratify all death sentences for convicted drug traffickers.
He said this is necessary to "implement the law and be a deterrent to anyone who dares to threaten the security of the country and its people."
Between 2019 and 2022, over 43,000 individuals have been apprehended on drug-related charges. In December 2022, the Supreme Judicial Council announced that approximately six tons of drugs stored in the Forensic Medicine Department were destroyed.
Some in Iraq have directly linked the high unemployment rate among youth to increased addiction. For instance, the Basra police department said that 97% of drug users arrested in 2018 were unemployed, and two-thirds were 25 or younger; the Basra appellate court reported that 90% of those arrested for drug use around the same time were unemployed. Unfortunately, there are no reliable official numbers, but statements by officials indicate that the drug problem is very acute in some cities; for example, the governor of Diwaniyah stated that the rate of drug abuse by youth had reached 40%, according to some estimates by non-governmental organizations.
Compounding the issue are the shortcomings of Iraq's legal framework. While the 2017 Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act prescribes the death penalty for certain drug offenses, its implementation has been inconsistent.
Human rights organizations raised concerns about the potential for arbitrary application of the law, particularly in a country with a fragile human rights record. They argue that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent and fails to address the root causes of drug abuse, such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to treatment.


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