Thirty Five Years of War on Drugs: a Human Cost Iran Should Not Take Pride In
June 26, 2016
In the past few years, the Islamic Republic’s leaders have shown a more moderate and open face to the world. The rate of executions, however, in particular for drug offenders, unseen in two decades, shows another face of Iranian decision makers, one of senseless brutality and contempt for citizens’ lives.
Refusing to acknowledge facts or hear the voices of reason, including of officials who call for a change of focus from punitive action to prevention and harm reduction, they have preferred so far to eliminate the symptom of the problem by attacking the weak and the poor.
The Council tasked the revolutionary courts, established in February 1979 to mete out punishment and instill fear, with cracking down on drug offenders. The courts denied defendants the right to legal counsel, a nuisance according to Sadeq Khalkhali, the first Shari’a Judge, and appeal. Until the entry into force of the new Code of Criminal Procedure in June 2015, drug offenders’ only option to challenge their judgements was to ask for pardon.
Between 1979 and 2003, 911,646 addicts and 1,644,497 drug dealers were sent to prison. In other words, a total of 2,556,143 individuals were sent to jail in 24 years. That is a yearly average of 106,509. Over the years, the numbers have steadily increased, indicating the failure of the security approach favored by Iranian authorities.
The UNODC does not have or does not publish data on executions. Iranian authorities do not publish statistics and do not allow systematic and independent monitoring of cases involving the death penalty. They also deliberately withhold information on executions and do not hand death sentences to convict presumably to avoid bad publicity.
For human rights organizations, access to death row prisoners and the families of those who were executed, is not easy. Those we contacted were often reluctant to give their full names for fear of retaliation, but also to avoid shaming their families.The following statements were provided to ABF by inmates in 2015 and 2016:
Urgent Need for Change in Law and Practices
Undeniably, with a close to 1000 km border with Afghanistan, drug trafficking aimed at satisfying demand inside and outside Iran is a serious concern. The world drug problem is serious and there are no easy solutions. But, Iran's solution, physically eliminating the symptoms of the problem in violation of Iran's laws and its international human rights obligations, is not among them.
Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation
June 26, 2016
 United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reported following its visit to Iran 2003: :The Working Group was struck by the absence of a culture of counsel, which seriously undermines due process. This situation is explained in part by the fact that criminal proceedings E/CN.4/2004/3/Add.2 page 15 in their entirety are, as we have emphasized, concentrated in the hands of a single person since the judge prosecutes, investigates and decides the case. The Group noted that many ordinary law prisoners have no understanding of the role of counsel and do not request the assistance of State appointed counsel. The latter are in any event few in number, and largely unmotivated owing to the low pay.” Interviews ABF January-June 2016.
 Interview Mehr News, 4 February, 2014
 Director of Evin Detention Center, ISKA News, 2 December, 2009
 Press conference, March 5, 2016, Mehr News.
 See for example Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i, irna.ir/fa/news/81661960
 "Since it is inappropriate to make daily statements to the public about executions ... and to provide detailed information regarding the cases, court officials prefer that not all of them be reported." (Judge Fazel of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court, IRNA, May 2007)
 The information on executions is drawn from the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation’s day by day research of published Iranian newspapers.
 Deputy Interior Minister in Charge of Security Affairs, Gholam-Hossein Bolandian, Iran Newspaper, 30 June 2001.
 Dr. Sirus Kazemi, Lorestan Welfare Organization, Kayhan newspaper, 27 February 2005
 See for example Head of Prison Organization, Morteza Bakhtiari’s statement of May 6, 2002 in the Judiciary’s paper Mavi. Gholam Hossein Esma’ili, Head of Prison Organization to Mehr News, August 1, 2011.
 Interview with a person familiar with the case, March 2015. http://iranrights.org/memorial/story/-7669/said-baluchi
Iran: Addicted to Death https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/090/2011/en/; www.ohchr.org/EN/.../HRC/.../A-HRC-31-69_en.doc; https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=22&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwir6ILhk8jNAhWjYJoKHY7_ASk4FBAWCC8wAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.opensocietyfoundations.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fdrugs-and-death-penalty-20151009.pdf&usg=AFQjCNFgMO1q_-hieFmJGXEuJ0rT8iGMvg&bvm=bv.125596728,d.bGs
 Ali Hashemi, Head of Drug Control Headquarter, July 27, 2005, Fars News  See for example: http://www.isna.ir/news/94040200904/%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%BE%D8%B4%D8%AA-%D9%BE%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%AA%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1ک http://www.isna.ir/news/94022011463/%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%AA%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%87-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA  Draft Law in ABF’s archives