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Death Penalty, Iran Questions Its Habit Of Drug-Related Executions

Dark alley in Tehran, Iran
Dark alley in Tehran, Iran

TEHRAN — Some Iranian legislators want to end the Islamic Republic's systematic execution of drug dealers, saying it does little to reduce the country's massive drug abuse problem.

More than 150 members of Parliament are preparing a motion to amend the country's drug enforcement laws and restrict death sentences to particular cases such as recidivism in trafficking, use of weapons or membership of an organized trafficking gang, the daily Arman-e Emrooz reports, citing the ISNA news agency.

Iran borders key drug producing regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, also acting as a shipping route and consumer market in its own right. Still, as Jalil Rahimi-Jahanabadi, a member of the parliamentary judicial affairs committee, noted most of those executed or on death row are the "little people" who may have had just one run in with the law. "Their execution harms families," he added.

Accurate statistics on the death penalty in Iran are unavailable, though human rights organizations estimate that an average of at least one person per day is put to death in the country, often related to drug offenses.

Rahimi-Jahanabadi said the stated objective of having such a high number of drug-related executions was to cut the supply of drugs. "Has that happened?," he quipped. "We have to think of alternative punishments."

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Iranian Anti-Narcotics police logo — Source: Wikimedia Commons

Days before, the Minister of Justice Mostafa Purmohammadi stressed executions were the right response. He said Islamic laws require the elimination of "corruptors."

Drug trafficking is one of the offenses Iran's judicial system terms "spreading corruption on Earth," alongside sexual offenses like rape, which all are capital crimes. Drug dealers are habitually termed "merchants of death" in state media.

Arman-e Emrooz cited an unnamed deputy-head of the country's drug enforcement body as putting annual profits from drug dealing at around $3 billion. The daily separately cited a spokesman for the country's drug enforcement agency Parviz Afshar, as saying that the price of a kilogram of crystal-meth had dropped by two-thirds from around $38,000 (120 million rials). Authorities interpreted that as a sign that hard drug users were moving to another new narcotic of choice, a type of heroin called "mud" or tar.

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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