Iran’s interior minister has admitted that the fight against narcotics and drug addiction in Iran has been futile.
Lambasting authorities in charge of the Iran Drug Control Headquarters (DCH), Abdol Reza Rahmani Fazli says DCH managers have been overly cautious in the past four years and have failed to do their jobs as required.
During the seasonal session of the Councils for Coordination of Fighting Drugs Across Iran on May 7, Rahmani Fazli maintained, “Although the policies for fighting drug addiction are crystal-clear, the campaign against narcotics has not been a priority for different state institutions in Iran.”
Insisting that 97 percent of Iranians “do not use any narcotic drugs,” Rahmani Fazli asked, “It is unbelievable that we have been incapable to control 3 percent of the population who use narcotic drugs?”
Explicitly admitting that fighting drugs has failed in the past four years, the interior minister affirmed that “institutions and authorities responsible for the campaign against addiction and illegal drugs” should be “impeached” and held “accountable”.
However, Rahmani Fazli had previously boasted of Iran’s “successful experience” in fighting addiction and drug traffickers.
Rahmani Fazli made the remarks during the 61st session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna on March 12.
But in his recent comments, he said, “While the volume of discovered drugs in Iran shows a 14 percent to 15 percent rise in recent years, all sorts of narcotic drugs are still easily available across the country.”
He accused the authorities responsible for fighting narcotics of “procrastination” and “peacefully living side by side the addicts”.
Furthermore, Rahmani Fazli referred to a “vicious cycle” which has been dominating Iran’s campaign against drug addiction in past decades. Drug rehab is an expensive lengthy procedure that takes months, even years to produce the desired result; the interior minister said, adding, “But, there is a vicious cycle that lures back people to drugs, only days after completing their rehab term.”
The chief of the Drug Police of Greater Tehran also cited the “vicious cycle” as responsible for failure in combatting drug addiction.
Mohammad Bakhshandeh said, “If we push drug addicts out of Shoush and Harandi [neighborhoods in Tehran], they will not go to the moon; they will merely migrate to another neighborhood.”
Bakhshandeh also said his forces should not be blamed for the resurgence in addiction. “If we have accepted the fact that addicts are not criminals and consider them as sick individuals, we should also accept that it is municipal and health departments duty to look after them, not the police’s,” he said.
Police has wasted considerable time and energy for rounding up 7,400 “unabashed addicts” in the past three months in Tehran, he added.
Furthermore, according to the deputy interior minister, 43 percent of prisoners in Iran are behind bars for drug-related offenses.
“Currently, 95,000 prisoners are in custody in Iran for crimes related to drugs addiction and smuggling,” Taqi Rostamvandi said.
While there are no reliable sources on the number of drug addicts in Iran, the head of Iran’s Social Affairs Organization says eight million people suffer from drug addiction in Iran. Nonetheless, DCH spokesman Parviz Afshar and the chairman for the Expediency Council’s Task Force for reducing demand for narcotics, Saeid Sefatian, have put the numbers of addicts in Iran at 2.8 million and 3.6 million, respectively.
Two years ago, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported, “Iran is confronting the gravest addiction crisis in the world.”
Iran, which has a 900-kilometer common border with Afghanistan, has been used as the main conduit for smuggling Afghan drugs to narcotics kingpins in Europe.