50 tons of narcotic drugs were uncovered during the first four months of the current Iranian year (started March 21st) in the province of Kerman, according to the head of police and security in the province.
In an interview with Mizan, the judiciary’s news website, Khalil Homayee also reiterated on August 28 that the volume of uncovered narcotics in the province shows a 49 percent rise compared with the previous year.
Due to its proximity to the Iran-Afghanistan border, Kerman has been a major conduit for drugs smuggling into Europe through Iran.
Homayee also said the volume of opium produced in Afghanistan, because of the foreign presence in the country, has risen from 100 tons in 2001 to 8,000 tons in the current year -- which he cited as the reason for the increase in the volume of narcotics uncovered in Iran.
There are nearly 2,800,000 persons currently in Iran who regularly use narcotic drugs
Homayee anticipated the approval of a bill by the Iranian Parliament that would sever the connection between security matters and smuggling narcotic drugs.
If approved, the bill would “push smugglers and dealers out of the drugs market and lay the groundwork for significantly decreasing the number of drug-related social harms,” he said.
Furthermore, during a TV show on August 27, Iran’s anti-narcotics police chief Ali Moayedi declared, “There are nearly 2,800,000 persons currently in Iran who regularly use narcotic drugs.”
Moayedi did not miss the chance to encourage the parliament to approve a bill authorizing the government to distribute drugs among addicts.
On August 13, Hassan Norouzi, spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s Judicial and Legal Commission, noted that giving the government the greenlight to distribute opium among addicts is reminiscent of what was done before the Iranian Revolution, during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Earlier, Saeed Sefatian, head of the working group on drug demand reduction in the Expediency Council, had also referred to the necessity of going back to pre-revolution drug policies.
“The state needs to manage all areas of drug policy: cultivation, production, supply, and consumption,” he said.
Moreover, the parliament has approved a motion that will significantly limit the number of drug-related executions in Iran.
Based on the current law, anyone convicted of manufacturing, distributing, importing, or selling more than 5 kilograms of hemp, hashish, or opium, or more than 30 grams of heroin, cocaine, morphine, or their chemical derivatives faces the death penalty.
Under the new law, if passed, affirms Norouzi, “only those who are convicted for manufacturing and distributing more than 50 kilograms of traditional addictive drugs and/or 2 kilograms of industrial addictive drugs will be executed.”
The revised and detailed version of the bill, if approved, will save thousands of prisoners already on the death row inside Iran’s prisons.
However, Amnesty International and its collaborator the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation have urged the Iranian Parliament to seize the historic opportunity to reject the death penalty for drug-related offenses.
“Iranian lawmakers must not miss a historic opportunity to reject the use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses and save the lives of thousands of people across the country.”
“Instead of abolishing the death penalty for drug-related offenses, the Iranian authorities are preparing to adopt a deeply disappointing piece of legislation, which will continue to fuel Iran’s execution machine and help maintain its position as one of the world’s top executioners,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
According to Iranian MPs, there are currently an estimated 5,000 people on death row for such offenses across the country. About 90 percent of them are first-time offenders between 20 and 30 years old.
AI and its partner are calling on Iran’s parliament to urgently amend the proposed legislation to bring it into line with Iran’s obligations under international human rights law, which absolutely prohibits use of the death penalty for non-lethal crimes.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also urged Iran to halt all executions for drug-related offenses while the parliament discusses amendments to reform the country’s drug law.
“It makes no sense for Iran’s judiciary to execute people now under a drug law that will likely bar such executions as early as next month,” HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson said in a July 20 statement. “It would be the height of cruelty to execute someone today for a crime that would at worst get them a 30-year sentence when this law is amended.”
HRW said the Norway-based Iran Human Rights Organization, which documents executions in Iran, has recorded the executions of 39 people since July 5 on drug-related charges.
However, many judicial authorities and conservative allies of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are against applying limits on the death penalty, maintaining that it would weaken Iran’s resolve in its campaign against the country’s growing drug crisis, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reported on July 7.
The latest opposition came from the head of the prosecutor’s office in Khorasan Razavi Province, Ali Mozaffari, who accused the parliament of trying to appease Western governments that have criticized Iran’s high rate of executions, CHRI added.
The amended bill, if finally approved in parliament, needs the Guardian Council’s ratification to become a binding law.