30 May 2018 :
The implementation of the death penalty for drug offences has all but ended in Iran, although human rights advocates continue to express concern at the judicial system’s response to drugs.
One person has been executed for drug offences in Iran since the beginning of 2018, while at least 112 were killed by the state for such crimes during the same period in 2017, according to non-profit organisation Iran Human Rights (IHR). This dramatic shift is largely the result of an amendment to the national drug legislation that came into force in November 2017.
As TalkingDrugs has reported, the amendment did not remove the death penalty from law books; rather, it significantly raised the minimum quantity of drug that a person must be found with before they can be sentenced to death. Iranian law broadly splits drugs into two categories; processed/chemical drugs, and natural drugs. For the former category, which includes heroin and cocaine, the quantity needed to be possessed to allow the death penalty rose from 30 grams to two kilograms. For "natural" drugs, such as cannabis and opium, the equivalent quantity rose from five kilograms to 50 kilograms.
Additionally, people can still face the death penalty for certain other drug offences that do not take quantity into account. This includes people who “exploit minors below 18 years old [when trafficking drugs], carry or draw firearms while committing drug-related crimes, or have a related previous conviction of the death penalty or a jail sentence of more than 15 years or life in prison”, according to the Middle East Eye. The law also allows people to be executed for being the “leader” of a drug trafficking group, as was the conviction of Kiomars Nosuhi, the one man executed for drug offences in Iran this year.
The IHR have responded to the amendment’s consequences with cautious optimism, but remain highly critical of what they see as a repressive and corrupt judicial system.