Majlis Considering End to Death Penalty for Drug Crime

Majlis Considering End to Death Penalty for Drug CrimeMajlis Considering End to Death Penalty for Drug Crime

Repealing the death penalty as a punishment for drug-related crime is under the consideration of the Majlis Judicial and Legal Affairs Commission.

“The commission is planning to pursue the matter and withdraw capital punishment from the anti-narcotics law in the 10th parliament (that convened on May 28) and will soon present a bill to that effect to the legislature,” commission deputy head Yahya Kamalipour told the parliament’s official news agency ICANA.

The current approach towards the drug problem have so far proved ineffective in curbing drug-related crime, underlining the necessity for a reforming the law, the lawmaker noted.

“Our anti-drug policy has not yielded positive results, and we must find other options to fight the menace. We need to deal with the source of the bane, instead of the last links of the chain” such as the victims, he noted.

Strategies adopted so far target those who “are forced to earn a living through working for drug cartels and kingpins due largely to their cultural and financial poverty.”

“Not only has the law failed to effectively punish the kingpins in the trade, but it has cut the branches and strengthened the stems,” said Kamalipour, stressing the need to root out the drug mafia.

He also reprimanded the Iran Drug Control Headquarters for its failure to fulfill its mission. The punitive measures are inadequate in the absence of other means and considerations.

“For instance, when we take away a family’s breadwinner and confine him to jail, little do we think about the ramifications of this action for the family, and society by extension,” he noted.

  Revision Will Reduce Executions

Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani has also called on Prosecutor General Mohammad Jaafar Montazeri to set up a committee to review and revise the existing laws regarding drug-related crimes.

In March, Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary-general of Iranian High Council for Human Rights, said around 90% of the executions in Iran are related to drug-trafficking crime, adding that a revision of the law would reduce the number.

Also, more than 70 lawmakers (in the previous legislature) signed a petition in December 2015, proposing the abolition of the death penalty in unorganized drug trafficking crimes, the Persian language newspaper ‘Sharq’ had reported.

But there were opponents to the proposal including Iran’s anti-narcotics police chief, Ali Moayedi who believes abolition of the death penalty would lead to more criminals joining the lucrative drug trade.

“More discussions and reviews by experts are needed to dissect all aspects of the issue and respond to questions by those opposed to the abolition of the death penalty,” says Parviz Afshar, IDCH deputy head. “It is only the beginning.”

The adoption of a community-based approach is also a strategy encouraged by the government. Interior minister and IDCH head, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, last week called for a document that lays out guidelines and protocols “for making the fight against narcotics a societal move”, entailing that every individual is cultured and educated enough to participate in preventing and combating drug abuse, rather than just the anti-drug police forces.

As per the next five-year development plan (2016-2021), the number of drug addicts should be brought down by 25% (5% every year) by the end of the plan period, but the country is lagging behind in reaching those targets, Fazli said.

The IDCH is currently working on a report on the state of substance abuse and trafficking in the country and will present it within six months to the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamanei who has called for stricter, more integrated, and more effective measures in fighting the scourge.