Changes to Iran’s Criminal Code Could Save the Lives of 5,000 People Awaiting Execution for Drug Offenses

Proper implementation of Iran’s recent changes to its penal code would save the lives of 5,000 people currently facing capital punishment for drug offenses in the country. After China, Iran executes more people than any other country in the world, and the majority of those sentenced to death are convicted of drug-related crimes.
Iran amended its penal code in 2016, replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment or fines for a number of drug related offenses. Earlier this month, the head of the Iranian judiciary announced that people awaiting execution for these crimes were entitled to have their cases reviewed.   
Iran’s new amendment does not eliminate the use of the death penalty for all drug offenses; distribution of over 50 kilograms of opium, 2 kilograms of heroin or 3 kilograms of crystal meth will still be punishable by death.
The United Nations opposes the use of the death penalty for drug related crimes and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly reiterated that international law limits the application of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes”, which does not include drug sale, use or trafficking. Despite this, over 30 countries around the world continue to use capital punishment for drug offenses, executing thousands of people a year.
Far too many people have lost their lives to the drug war, including at the hands of their own state. Iran should commute the sentences of the 5,000 people awaiting executions and should eliminate the death penalty for all drug offenses. Capital punishment for drug offenses does not deter drug use, is a violation of international law, and is inhumane.

This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.