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Iran abolishes death penalty for drug trafficking

24 April 2017 16:49 (UTC+04:00)
Iran abolishes death penalty for drug trafficking

By Kamila Aliyeva

Iran's Parliament has abolished the death penalty for dealers, distributors and traffickers of narcotic drugs, replacing this punishment with lifelong imprisonment.

Representative of the Judicial Commission of the Parliament (Majlis) of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Nourozi announced about this while talking to journalists on April 23.

Under the changes, the death penalty for non-band drug traffickers and smugglers who were unarmed and had no previous execution or life imprisonment convictions will be converted to 25 to 30 years of imprisonment.

In November 2016, Nourozi indicated that there were about 5,000 prisoners between 20 and 30 years old on death row in Iran. Most of these individuals were first-time drug offenders.

The Islamic Republic has long been criticized by international community for its death penalties against drug traffickers. Iran executed hundreds of prisoners during 2016, the majority for drugs offences.

But, there has been a considerable drop in the number of executions in Iran in recent years. Earlier, the international human rights organization Amnesty International reported that the total number of executions carried out in Iran in 2016 decreased by 42 percent (at least from 977 to 567) compared to the previous year.

Even though the death penalty has not been shown to be an effective deterrent for drug-related offences, there has been no progress toward the adoption of a bill to amend mandatory death penalty sentences for these crimes.

The UN human rights mechanisms have repeatedly and consistently expressed their great concern at this persistent trend, along with urging the Iranian government to end executions and institute a moratorium on the death penalty altogether.

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Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva

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