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Death Penalty

Tehran Prosecutor Dowlatabadi: Judiciary Should Speed Up Implementation of Confirmed Drug Death Sentences

Youth Journalists Club / Translation by ABC
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
July 3, 2018
Web article

Jafari Dolatabadi said: “The Office of the Tehran Prosecutor has made a proposal to the Police to allocate Kahrizak Detention Center to blatant addicts."

According to a report by the Young Journalists Club’s social issues section, on Sunday, July 1, 2018, a first session was convened at the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office’s addressing Social Ills caused by Illicit Drugs. The session was presided over by Tehran General and Public Prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi; other participants included several of the heads and deputy heads of various prosecutor’s offices of the city of Tehran as well as prosecutors from other cities in the Province, Commander Zahedian of Tehran’s Drug Police and several other police commanders from eastern and western Tehran province, and several representatives of executive bodies with drug-related functions.

Tehran General and Public Prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, conceded that the drug problem was an old and persistent one in the country that has evoked a slew of policies, particularly after the victory of the Revolution. In describing these policies, Dolatabadi stated: “Swift and decisive action was taken in the early days of the victory of the Revolution. Subsequently, with the passage of the Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs of 1988 by the Expediency Council, these policies were tempered to a certain extent, and the death penalty was prescribed for important drugs including heroin, crack, and morphine in quantities more than 30 grams.”

 

Review of 1700 requests by convicts sentenced to death and to life imprisonment

Jafari Dolatabadi said that the Amendment of an Article to the Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, reducing the sentence of death to prison terms in certain cases in accordance with Article 45 of the aforementioned Law, was another important development that occurred in the second half of the previous year. Stating that the Amendment indicated a change of policy regarding the fight against drugs, he also alluded to requests made by convicts sentenced to death and to life in prison in Tehran and to the effect the Law has already had and said: “In Tehran, we have received 3000 requests related to convicts sentenced to death and to life in prison, 1700 of which have been reviewed in courts under the new Law and a majority of those sentences has been reduced; there are 1300 more left about which we hope courts make decisions as soon as possible.”

“We have received 3000 requests related to convicts sentenced to death and to life in prison, 1700 of which have been reviewed in courts under the new Law and a majority of those sentences has been reduced"

Noting developments in policies related to illicit drugs, and reminding the authorities’ meetings with the Supreme Leader every six months, he alluded to the Supreme Leader’s words at the last session convened in May and said: “His recommendation, in so many words, was to break the financial backs of people engaged in the business of illicit and psychotropic drugs, and to put the emphasis on redirecting the fight toward the financial resources of these criminals.”

He alluded to amendments made to the Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drug concerning financial punishments and stated that they were geared toward reducing such punishments; he added: “In accordance with the amendments made in 2017, the assets of drug criminals are not all subject to expropriation any longer; only those assets that have been obtained as a result of criminal activity will be seized. Therefore, it is necessary for the prosecutor’s offices and revolutionary courts to identify defendants’ assets and the source and manner of their acquisition.”

He emphasized that illicit drugs were among the top five social ills and noted that their importance lied in the fact that they touched the lives of many individuals who were somehow involved and entangled with drug addiction; he added: “In order to determine the number of people who are involved with and affected by this issue, one must multiply the number of addicts by the average number of individuals in a household in the country, which is three to four people; only then do you see what a significant number that is.”

 

The Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs and the country’s macro policies do not recognize the theory that an addict is a sick person

The Tehran Prosecutor said that another problem that needs to be addressed is what label to assign to an addict, “criminal” or “sick person”; he explained: “There have been many discussions regarding whether an addict is a criminal or a sick person. The Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs and the country’s macro policies must be taken into account, neither of which recognizes the theory that an addict is strictly a sick person. They ascribe both labels, patient and criminal, to the addict. I approve this viewpoint; it is the use of drugs that results in addiction, an act rooted in that individual’s will, whereas, an illness is an involuntary act.”

"The Law.. [ascribes] both labels, patient and criminal, to the addict. I approve this viewpoint; it is the use of drugs that results in addiction, an act rooted in that individual’s will, whereas, an illness is an involuntary act.”

 

The effects of illicit and psychotropic drugs on the commission of crimes and on social ills

Jafari Dolatabadi said that another angle that must be considered in the realm of combating illicit and psychotropic drugs is the effect of such drugs on the commission of crimes and on other social ills. He added: “Illicit drugs are at the root of many crimes such as murder and theft, as well as being the cause of certain social ills such as divorce and prostitution. Therefore, given all the problems that exist in combating drugs, it seems that more investment is necessary in this regard.”

He stated that the problems associated with combating drugs are mainly caused by three factors: Iran’s adjacency to countries engaged in the widespread cultivation and production of drugs, the switch from traditional drugs to synthetic drugs, and the epidemic proportions of drug use which has resulted in a lower addiction age. Providing an explanation for the first problem, he stated: “In certain neighboring countries, there is extensive cultivation of cannabis and poppy seed; certain reports indicate that the level of cultivation has increased tremendously in Afghanistan. It is therefore normal that the problems resulting from such activities are imposed upon our country and become our problems because Iran is a preferred transit route for drug traffickers.”

 

The emergence of synthetic drugs has made the fight that much more difficult

In explaining the other two factors that must be addressed in combating illicit drugs, the Tehran Prosecutor added: “Prior to the victory of the Islamic Revolution, use of traditional drugs was prevalent and so the previous regime adopted certain alternatives, such as rationing for elderly addicts, to contain the problem. However, the emergence of synthetic drugs, especially in recent years, the traffic of which is very lucrative and production of which is also easy, has made the fight that much more difficult. Furthermore, addiction has now touched younger users and women as well; some official reports indicate that certain classes have an addiction rate of 22 percent which is extremely alarming.”

Jafari Dolatabadi stated that these three factors along with the change in the Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs and the amendment of an article thereto, requires that further attention be given to combating drugs. He added: “Therefore, the Office of the Tehran Prosecutor has devoted the first session of social ills in the current year to the examination of the actions of the bodies involved with illicit and psychotropic drugs, examination of the situation in various cities in Tehran Province in this regard and comparing it to other provinces.”

In doing a comparative analysis of the subject, he emphasized that provinces with similar situations must be compared to one another. For example, Tehran Province cannot be compared to Kerman Province and Sistan and Baluchestan Province, but must rather be compared to Alborz Province or Zanjan Province.

 

Using Kahrizak Detention Center to hold blatant addicts

The Tehran Prosecutor considered the most important approach in combating drugs to be coordination among the relevant bodies involved in the matter and concentrating on two issues, namely getting addicts off the streets and striking the financial foundations of drug criminals. In explaining the first tier he said: “Picking up blatant addicts has been emphasized at all social ills sessions. The existence of certain problems, however, such as lack of places to hold them, has held up action in this regard, to a certain extent. The Prosecutor’s Office has proposed to the Police to allocate Kahrizak Detention Center to blatant addicts. It was also decided that places devoted to holding addicts be designed in such a way that the conditions are harsher than other places so that they may act as deterrents and not make the addict think that the period of detention of a few months is not that bad and it will be over quickly.”

"The Prosecutor’s Office has proposed to the Police to allocate Kahrizak Detention Center to blatant addicts. It was also decided that places devoted to holding addicts be designed in such a way that the conditions are harsher than other places so that they may act as deterrents and not make the addict think that the period of detention of a few months is not that bad and it will be over quickly.”

 

The necessity of concentrating on identifying defendants’ assets and properties

Jafari Dolatabadi noted the necessity of prosecutor’s offices and courts to concentrate on inflicting blows to the financial foundations of drug criminals and added: “Judges are to concentrate on identifying defendants’ assets and properties in the preliminary investigations stage, and determine the criminal activities by way of which these assets were obtained. The police must help in this regard as well because one of the more deep-rooted and persistent problems in these cases, is the financial support the leaders of these criminal drug enterprises provide to the defendants and their families, the result of which is that the perpetrators of these crimes will not be worried about their own arrest and incarceration.”

 

Expediting the implementation of sentences

He asked prosecutors of various cities in Tehran Province to expedite implementation of death sentences upheld in court subsequent to the application of Article 45 as Amended to the Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, and added: “Non-implementation of these death sentences prior to the passage of the aforementioned Law was justified by asserting that the corresponding Bill was still being debated in Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament). Unfortunately, there was also a certain lack of coordination in the past in terms of implementation of death sentences, where, in certain provinces, an individual’s death sentence issued for possession of 30 grams of meth or heroin would be carried out, and in certain other provinces, the death sentence issued for a criminal who had transported 30 kilograms of drugs would not get to the implementation stage. The Judiciary Branch issued a number of orders to correct these discrepancies and the problem was resolved to a certain extent.”

In light of the passage of the new law, the Tehran Prosecutor asked prosecutors in other Tehran Province towns to implement death sentences that were determined by Islamic revolutionary courts to be commensurate and in line with the new law, and whose ruling was upheld [by the Supreme Court], and no defects were found therein.

Jafari Dolatabadi asked that executive organs and law enforcement carry out their duties in combating addiction and drugs as provided for in the Sixth Development plan.

"Unfortunately, there was also a certain lack of coordination in the past in terms of implementation of death sentences, where, in certain provinces, an individual’s death sentence issued for possession of 30 grams of meth or heroin would be carried out, and in certain other provinces, the death sentence issued for a criminal who had transported 30 kilograms of drugs would not get to the implementation stage."

 

Police discoveries in 2017-18

Chief of Police for Combating Drugs, Commander Zahedian, presented a report on the situation of the fight against drugs at the national level as well as in Tehran Province during the period 2016-17 and 2017-18, as well as the first three months of the current [Iranian calendar] year, and compared Tehran Province with other provinces.

He announced that in 2017-18, 712,871 kilograms of drugs were confiscated, which represented a 13 percent increase over the previous year, 22 percent of which were methamphetamines.

He also announced that compared to other provinces, Tehran Province ranked 10th in terms of drugs discovered, and that Sistan and Baluchestan, Kerman, and Hormozgan Provinces ranked 1st through 3rd, , respectively. Addressing police action in destroying cannabis and poppy crops in the country, he stated: “This year, the police had to conduct its destruction operations in two phases due to the increase in rainfall in certain provinces, and consequently, we have had a 59 percent increase in destruction of cannabis and poppy crops in the first three months of the current year.”

The Chief of Police for Combating Drugs stated that the introduction of new psychotropic drugs into the market, including NPS’s that have plant and synthetic sources, as well as new drugs that have grown on their own and cause delusions, are important issues that need to be addressed, and added that amending the law in this regard is a necessity.

He stated that the amount of drugs discovered [in Tehran Province] were 2 percent for the Greater Tehran area, 3 percent for western Tehran Province, and 1 percent for eastern Tehran Province, of the total percentage for the country. As for drugs discovered in various Tehran Province cities, he stated: “In 2017-18, the town of Malard had a 40 percent decrease in drugs discovered compared to the previous year; on the other hand, the town of Shahriar had a 362 percent increase and ranked first in the Province for discovery of illicit and psychotropic drugs. In the eastern part of the Province, the town of Pakdasht ranked first with a 354 percent increase in drugs discovered in 2017-18 compared to the previous year.”

He also reported a decrease in discovery of prefabricated drugs in the current year and considered this decrease to be the result of an increase in their prices due to police intervention and action at the border in preventing the entry of such drugs into the country.

Commander Zahedian talked about the implementation of the Plan for Raising Social Safety in the current year and said that it had resulted in the arrest of 32,787 blatant addicts and 13,172 petty dealers, which indicated a 6 percent increase over last year.

The Chief of Police for Combating Drugs stated that one of the significant occurrences of 2017-18, was the 67 percent increase in the entry of psychotropic drugs, this evil phenomenon, into the country, and, noting the change in consumption patterns, he said this about the gangs arrested in the course of 2016-17 and 2017-18: “In 2016-17, 2,191 gangs involved in illicit and psychotropic drugs were identified, and 335,154 cases were opened, which experienced a 12 percent decrease and a 7 percent increase, respectively, in 2017-18.”

“In 2016-17, 2,191 gangs involved in illicit and psychotropic drugs were identified, and 335,154 cases were opened."

He also reported the confiscation of 23,961 automobiles and recovery of 926 weapons from drug traffickers in 2017-18.

He proposed the continuation of the Plan for [Safety in Schools and] School Peripheries and the cleaning up of schools that was implemented last year.

Then, Commander Khanlarchi, Western Tehran Province Chief of Police, presented a report on picking up blatant addicts and stated that the total amount of drugs discovered in the west of the Province in the first three months of the current year was 19,887 kilograms.

Reza Abolhassani, Head of the Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, Region 20, also presented a report on the performance of said Prosecutor’s Office in picking up blatant addicts in the first three months of the current year, and stated that 3,100 individuals were picked up pursuant to The Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, Article 16, and 1600 individuals were picked up pursuant to Article 15 of that Law.

Pakdasht Prosecutor, Alipur, announced an increase in drug-related criminal activity in the town of Pakdasht subsequent to the implementation of the Amended Article 45 to the Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, and added: “2,700 blatant addicts have been picked up in the Pakdasht region in the current year.”

In summarizing the discussions and announcing the directives, Jafari Dolatabadi emphasized the necessity of paying further attention to social issues and the multifaceted aspect of these issues, and stated that social ills will not be resolved through judicial action alone, including picking up addicts. He directed the prosecutors’ attention to the fact that social ills such as divorce, demand collective action because they are national issues.

 

Do not have a strictly judicial perspective on social ills

Criticizing the lack of coordination between relevant governmental entities involved in addressing social ills, he stated: “Prosecutors should not have a strictly judicial perspective on social ills, since this is an area that demands collective action and it is necessary that every entity perform its duties pursuant to existing laws and regulations.”

The effective presence of prosecutors in coordination sessions with the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs was another matter the Tehran Prosecutor insisted upon, and asked said Headquarters to address existing shortcomings in various organs in combating drugs, including town governor’s offices.

 

The necessity of establishing camps to hold drug convicts

Jafari Dolatabadi noted the government’s legal duty to build camps pursuant to the provisions of the Law for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs and to turn them over to the judiciary, and added: “The Interior Ministry has helped the Prisons Organization, including regarding the Fashafuyeh Prison; we must make use of available resources so long as camps, in the true and specific meaning of the word, have not been constructed.” The Tehran Prosecutor also emphasized the necessity of cooperation among relevant bodies engaged in tracking drug criminals for money laundering.

Jafari Dolatabadi also alluded to the problem of holding blatant female addicts due to the shortage of camps; noting the 150- person total capacity of the two camps that have been allocated for these addicts, he said that it was essential to increase capacity in general.

The Tehran Prosecutor also alluded to quick access to drugs being a major problem. In proposing a viable solution to this issue, he stated: “The mechanisms for combating drug-related crimes must be transformed since the methods for committing crimes are changing. It is also necessary for prosecutors to expedite issuing judicial orders so that the police don’t have to deal with certain challenges.”

Stating the total number of addicts in the country and noting that the average number of people in a household is four, Jafari Dolatabadi concluded that there are currently a large number of families across the country that are entangled with the problem of addiction and it is imperative that fundamental changes and alternatives be devised.

 

Addiction is more than just a social phenomenon

Attention to cultural and educational issues was another decision made at the session. The Tehran Prosecutor talked about a theory presented by certain experts on the matter concerning facilitating repetition of the cycle of addiction and said: “Today, addiction is more than just a social problem since the cycle is facilitated and keeps repeating itself; it is therefore necessary to increase goal-oriented confrontation and prevention measures and operations.”

Jafari Dolatabadi stressed the importance of maintaining D.I.C. centers and solving their problems. He expressed his opposition to the proposal for the closure of these centers and added: “The result of the operation of these centers is that the addict is no longer in a perilous situation and is put in a no danger condition.”

Inspection of addicts’ camps was another issue the Tehran Prosecutor stressed and asked that prosecutors, when inspecting these camps, come up with solutions to problems instead of issuing orders for their closure.

Noting the conditions of addicts camps in the city of Tehran, namely, that there is a shortage of sixteen thousand places, the Tehran Prosecutor further stated that this was not a problem specific to Tehran and added: “Prosecutors must help out more and make sure that people’s rights are not violated, and at the same time, be mindful of prison conditions and capacity.”

Admitting that drugs are a national problem, he concluded that outlooks as well as aid must also happen at the national level. He noted that some of the budget allocated for this purpose was not spent and was returned, and stated: “It is not acceptable that an entity obtain funds and credit for the purpose of combating illicit and psychotropic drugs, and then return the same to the treasury without spending it for the stated purpose.” The Tehran Prosecutor asked the Health Minister to issue an order to study the case so that if funds have been allocated for this purpose, they can be expended for combating health problems related to drugs.