Amnesty International Reports Sharp Increase in Executions for Drug-Related Offenses in Iran
Iran's unfair trials and execution of drug offenders disproportionately affect marginalized communities, says Amnesty International
Amnesty International has released a report today revealing a significant rise in the number of executions for drug-related offenses in Iran. According to the report, at least 173 individuals have been executed for such offenses this year alone, nearly three times more than during the same period last year. These executions account for two-thirds of all executions carried out in Iran within the first five months of 2023, with the majority of those impacted belonging to marginalized and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The report highlights the alarming trend of executing individuals from the Baluchi ethnic minority, who make up only five percent of Iran's population but account for around 20 percent of the recorded executions. Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy, condemned the Iranian authorities for their actions, stating that the executions violated international law and demonstrated a lack of humanity and disregard for the right to life.
The organization called on states and intergovernmental bodies to condemn Iran for these arbitrary executions, urging them to advocate for an official moratorium on all executions, send representatives to visit death row prisoners, and attend trials involving capital crimes. Furthermore, Amnesty International stressed the need for accountability, urging the pursuit of meaningful pathways to address the crisis of impunity for mass arbitrary executions.
The report also reveals an overall increase in executions for all crimes, with at least 282 people executed in total so far in 2023. This number is nearly double the executions recorded by this time last year. If this pace continues, the authorities could execute close to a thousand prisoners by the end of the year.
Amnesty International emphasizes that the death penalty disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable, who often lack awareness of their rights and cannot afford independent legal representation. Families of those executed suffer severe economic consequences, including losing their breadwinners and accumulating heavy debts from legal fees.
The report highlights the story of a family whose breadwinner was imprisoned and executed, leaving them burdened with debt after their court-appointed lawyer exploited them for money and failed to fulfill promises. Another testimony from a teenage son of an executed prisoner sheds light on the devastating impact on families' financial stability, hindering educational opportunities and forcing children to work to make ends meet.
Executions related to drug offenses are often the result of flawed investigations by Iran's anti-narcotics police and other security bodies. Amnesty International describes trials for drug-related offenses as systematically unfair, with detainees denied due process rights, including access to legal representation. Many prisoners face torture-tainted "confessions" used as evidence against them.
In addition to drug-related offenses, the Iranian authorities have executed individuals for acts that should not result in the death penalty under international law. The report cites cases of executions related to protests, consensual sexual relations labeled as "adultery," and charges such as "apostasy" and "insulting the Prophet of Islam." Security forces have also used violent means to suppress peaceful demonstrations outside prisons where executions are scheduled, leading to further distress for prisoners' families.
Amnesty International reiterates its stance against the death penalty in all cases, emphasizing that it violates the right to life and constitutes the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. The organization calls on the international community to take decisive action to address the situation and ensure that anti-drug trafficking initiatives do not contribute to human rights violations in Iran.