Following legal amendments, Iran has affectively abandoned the death penalty for those convicted of drug offenses. However, some human rights groups continue to express concern in other ways Iran’s judicial system treats those convicted of drug offenses.
Only one person has received the death penalty in Iran in 2018, although many people would argue this is one person too many. In the first five months of 2017, 112 people were killed for drug offenses. These figures were published by Iran Human Rights (IHR).
This vast improvement in affairs is due to amendments made to Iran’s drug legislation that was enacted back in November 2017.
Although this amendment did not act to completely remove the death penalty for drug offenses, it did act to raise the minimum quantity of drugs a person must possess before they become eligible for the death penalty.
Before November 2017, the minimum quantity of drugs a person must possess for the death penalty to arise was merely 30 grams. This includes drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Now, a person must be found to be carrying at least 2 kilograms of these drugs in order to be given the death penalty.
For drugs such as cannabis or opium, a person must be found to be carrying at least 5-50 kilograms of these drugs in order to be given the death penalty.
People may also be handed the death penalty if they are found to be ‘exploiting minors below 18 years old when trafficking drugs, carrying or drawing firearms while committing drug offenses or having a previous conviction of the death penalty or jail sentence of more than 15 years for drug offenses’.
People may also be handed the death penalty if they are convicted of being ‘the leader’ of a drug trafficking group. This was the case for Kiomars Nosuhi, the only person executed so far in 2018 for drug offenses in Iran. Nosuhi was convicted for possessing one tonne of morphine.
The main human rights group that monitors Iran, the IHR, says it is cautiously optimistic about this legal amendment, although it says more must be done to reform Iran’s corrupt and repressive judicial system.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam from IHR said ‘we have several serious concerns regarding the process of implementation of the new amendment, including bribery in the Judicial system, insufficient capacity to handle a large number of cases, and lack of a monitoring organ overlooking the process.’
The IHR has published many horrific accounts from people put in prison in Iran for drug offenses. These accounts include confessions induced by torture.