Under Pressure from Guardian Council, Majles Changes Drug Reform Measure
As the Legal and Judicial Committee’s proposal to do away with capital punishment for some drug crimes was expected to come up for a vote before the Majles, the bill has returned to the committee riddled with changes.
On July 9, the Legal and Judicial Committee approved a Bill for the Incorporation of Single Article into the Law for Combatting Drugs. In that measure, production, distribution, importation, and sale of drugs and intoxicants like opium, opium syrup, and opium residue in volumes over 100 kilograms carried the death penalty. The death penalty was also prescribed for production, distribution, importation, and sale of drugs like heroin, cocaine, morphine and chemical precursors where volumes exceeded two kilograms.
Iran is one of the countries with the greatest number of executions in the world, and thus is regularly subject to criticism from some countries and international human rights organizations.
Iran’s judiciary has announced that most of those put to death were executed for drug trafficking. Zaid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, stated in his spring 2017 report that the majority of death sentences in Iran were for drug trafficking and that this offense is not considered to fall within the “most serious crimes” category stipulated in international law.
The present version of the bill has been altered after the Legal and Judicial Committee approved an initial measure in the winter of 2016 that did away with the death penalty for drug carrying and sales, provided that they were not committed with arms or in an organized group and that the offender did not have a prior sentencing record of more than 15 years.
Committee spokesman Hassan Nowruzi said with reference to the July 9 session that the reason behind the changes to the proposal was “repeated requests from executive and judicial officials.” Last month, Nowruzi told Shargh Newspaper that the measure had been ready for a vote before the Majles, but that a letter from these officials kept it from being presented to the plenary session. Khabar Online reported that the Guardian Council had opposed the bill. A short while ago, the Anti-Drug Police had also opposed the abolition of the death penalty for drug crimes.