Capital punishment in Iran has roughly been cut in half because of drug law reform, a human rights organization reports.
Executions in Iran have also been cut in half after historic law reforms, according to Human Rights Watch and Harm Reduction International.
Iran had 225 executions in 2018, of which 91 were for drug offenses. In 2017, there were 507 executions, according to a March 17 story in Current Events.
The decrease in drug- related executions is due to new amendments in drug laws, which were motivated in part by international pressure and grassroots efforts.
Chief Justice Larijani’s judicial order in 2018 initiated a review process for all drug offenders on Death Row, possibly to commute execution sentences under the newly changed standards. Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters reported 3,000-4000 sentences would be commuted.
“Non-governmental organizations (in Iran) are key partners in implementing drug treatment programs… Their constant efforts and lobbying have helped political and religious authorities to adopt new approaches to tackling the drug problem,” according to a report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
Former U.N. Human Rights Chief Ra’ad Al Hussein called on Iran to “institute a moratorium on the use of the death penalty” because he said capital punishment is inhumane and irreversible.
The drug epidemic and the death penalty had risen throughout the decades following the 1979 Islamic Revolution when religious and governmental officials drew a hard line against drug addiction. The result: hundreds were arrested and executed each year, according to the story.
“International law requires not only the reducing of, but ideally the elimination of, the use of the death penalty for drug offenses in Iran,” according to Harm Reduction International. It claimed low level drug of- fenders are still being executed.