Deputy Prosecutor General Zebhi: Drug Users who Resist Treatment, Do not Kick Addiction are Criminals
Emphasizing strictness in dealing with drug-related criminals, and with defendants in drug-related cases, the Prosecutor General’s Deputy for Judicial Affairs stated: “In accordance with the 2010-11 law, an addict is not a criminal simply because of his/her addiction. If he/she is conspicuous and knowledgeable [about the fact that his drug use constitutes a sin and is thereby committing “Tajahor”], however, then he is considered a criminal.”
Regarding whether an addict is a criminal or a sick person, Hossein Zebhi added: “The Amended Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs’ approach was different than before, as can be seen in Articles 15 and 16.
[Through enactment of this Law], legislators compelled drug addicts to quit, giving them an opportunity [and time] to do so; in the event they did not quit, they would be required to be sent to [rehabilitation centers] in order to quit and reduce the harm.”
Zebhi noted: “Article 16 of the previous law considered a drug addict a criminal, drug addiction a crime, and the drug addict’s action punishable; i.e., an addict would be prosecuted, punished, and his/he employment terminated if he/she were a government employee.
In the 2010-11 Law, [the clause providing for] termination of employment of a government employee addict was removed; also, instead of being prosecuted initially, an addict was first given an opportunity to quit.”
This Judiciary official added: “Currently, therefore, drug addiction is not a crime in and of itself. If, however, the addict does not kick his/her addiction within the timeframe allotted by law, and thereafter becomes conspicuous [in his/her drug use], (“Motajaher”), or does not make an effort to quit subsequent to being sent to treatment centers, then, in that event, he/she will be considered a criminal pursuant to Article 16, and can prosecuted and punished.”
The Prosecutor General’s Deputy for Judicial Affairs emphasized: “Therefore, pursuant to the law, drug addiction is not a crime that can be prosecuted, in and of itself. What is considered criminal, is the addict’s lack of cooperation and action in kicking the addiction. And if it is proven that the addict is conspicuous and knowledgeable of the sin [of drug use] (“Motejari”) and is not willing to cooperate to kick the habit, then the issue of criminality, prosecution, and punishment arises.”
The Judiciary’s main activities in fighting illicit drugs are concentrated in the Prosecutor’s Office.
Stating that the Judiciary and its sub-groups’ principal activities in the realm of fighting drug addiction are concentrated initially in the Prosecutor’s Office, [the latter being] a member of the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, Zebhi said: “First, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and the relevant deputyship and judges, conduct preventive as well as confrontational activities, because of the duties they have in various committees of the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs.
After the Prosecutor General, the deputy, and the judges, other organs such as the Prisons Organization, which is a member of the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, and of course, the Prevention Deputyship, as well as other organs, are also somehow involved. The majority of actions, however, are taken by members of the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs.”
He added: “The Head of the Judiciary who is at the top [of the hierarchy] of the Headquarters, diligently bearing in mind confrontation, combative, and preventive policies, determines the Judiciary Branch’s policies and guidelines in this regard, which are then communicated to and followed up with judges, in the form of guidelines and directives, and through other means.”
Protecting the rights of those accused of drug-related crimes must be taken into consideration.
Stating that protection of the rights of those accused of drug-related crimes is at the top of the agenda of the fight against illicit drugs, the Prosecutor General’s Deputy for Judicial Affairs added: “Citizens’ rights must be taken into consideration at every stage when dealing with drug traffickers, from prosecution to adjudication, to other stages, to implementation of the law, and issuance of a sentence. This is based on the regime’s strategic and macro policies and on judicial authorities’ guidance and vision.”
Emphasizing that defendants’ dignity, integrity, and honor should not be overlooked under any circumstances, he continued: “Our advice to our judicial colleagues is that Islamic morals be observed, and that the dignity of the accused [be respected] in the manner he/she is dealt with, at all stages, [when conducting] judicial and law enforcement work. Although they must be dealt with firmly and decisively, Islamic ethics, [sensitivities, and prestige] must be taken into account.”
Zebhi specified: “Under no circumstances are the criminals to be dealt with aggressively or inappropriately, or be insulted or humiliated. Appropriate measures must be taken to lay the groundwork for the treatment of addicts and their return to society.
All law enforcement activities must be pursuant to a judge’s order, and upon going through legal channels; entering a home and conducting a survey and search to solve [and obtain evidence of] a crime must not cause damage to individuals.”
This Judiciary official noted: “Entry [into a home], search, and investigation must only be done pursuant to a judge’s order. Judicial authorities and law enforcement officials who take action for the purpose of search and seizure of drugs and arrest of traffickers, must not do anything illegal [and must act according to the law].”
Zebhi also asked for an end to illegal arrests and to keeping the accused in objectionable conditions.
Citing the Law of Criminal Procedure and the Amended Law for Fighting Illicit Drugs passed by the Expediency Council, the Prosecutor General’s Deputy stated that retaining and having an attorney at all stages was a right of the accused and added: “Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s [Unified Procedure] ruling, defendants are entitled to a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford to retain one. Judges must pay attention to the attorney issue, particularly in cases which carry the death penalty, and create the conditions for the defendant to mount a legal defense.”
Families of drug criminals sentenced to death must be allowed certain exemptions.
Concerning the disposition of defendants’ property and the necessity to make certain exemptions for properties of drug-related defendants and criminals, Zebhi stated: “Courts must make certain exemptions, enough so that the defendants’ families can be provided for. If the latter does not take place, the rulings will not be upheld: the defendant’s family must not be put in [financial] hardship and distress, [a state] that can become an incentive to commit other crimes.”
Sentences are issued based on the net weight of the drugs.
This Judiciary official considered issuing sentences based on the net weight of the drugs, without any coverings/packaging, an example of observing citizens’ rights and said: “We have made certain decisions in this regard as well.”
Noting the Head of the Judiciary’s directive emphasizing that prison is not the [proper] place to keep addicts, he added: “Strengthening treatment systems, methadone treatments, as well as expanding rehabilitation centers, etc., by medical personnel in prisons, in order to kick the addiction, are among the necessities that must be adhered to; addicts in rehabilitation centers must undergo treatment.”
He noted: “In order to create a unified procedure in prosecutor’s offices and to observe defendants’ rights in the course of adjudication, the Prosecutor [General], by supervising judicial cases and through strategic cooperative committees with the law enforcement apparatus, is trying to take the necessary actions to correctly implement the law and eliminate conflict of laws and ambiguities, through optimal supervision, [ongoing] training of judges, accountability and interaction.”
*** In Islam, “Tajahor” is commission of a sin, conspicuously and in public (i.e. in front of others), and with the knowledge that it is a sin. There is disagreement among experts as to what constitutes “in public”, some saying that commission of a sin among friends and in a small group does not constitute “Tajahor” unless their number of those present is great. (See:http://www.wikifeqh.ir/%D8%AA%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%B1_%D8%A8%D9%87_%D9%81%D8%B3%D9%82)