Iran could cut down on executions
search

Iran could cut down on executions

After 1,000 death sentences carried out in 2015, parliamentary bill aims to remove drug smuggling from list of capital offenses

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of an execution in Iran. (AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)
Illustrative photo of an execution in Iran. (AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)

Iran’s parliament is considering a bill that would dramatically reduce the number of executions the country carries out each year by no longer treating drug smuggling as a capital offense.

Iran, which hanged some 1,000 people in 2015, is second only to China in the number of executions it performs annually.

However, the bill is likely to face strong opposition from conservative members of the judiciary who oppose any changes in laws they see as being in line with Islamic values, The New York Time reported on Tuesday.

Reformist lawmaker Yahya Kamalpour explained to the semi-official ISNA new agency that the bill calls for a more scientific way of dealing with drug abuse.

“We want to eliminate the death penalty for those criminals who act out of desperation,” Kamalpour said. “We need a scientific and not an emotional approach to this problem.”

No single party has a majority in Iran’s new parliament, which was installed in August following elections in May and is considered less conservative than its predecessor.

Even if parliament passes the bill, it would still require confirmation by the 12-member Guardian Council, which is dominated by hardliners. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ultimate control over whether or not the bill is accepted, but his views on the matter are not clear.

Drug smugglers make up the majority of those executed, according to the report. In Iran, where there is a significant problem of drug use and smuggling, possession of just 30 grams of heroin is enough to earn a death sentence.

While local media reported that in 2015 the country executed 950 people, the UN put the figure at 1,000, and human rights groups said there were 1,500 death sentences carried out.

The head of the judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, rejected the move to change the law.

Speaking with the semiofficial Fars news agency last week, he said: “If the judiciary had not taken a tough stance, the situation would have been very bad, and drugs would have been available even at traditional medicine stores.”

According to the Times, public hangings are no longer as common in Iran as they were in the past and do not usually draw large crowds.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

For as little as $6 a month, you can help support our independent journalism — and enjoy special benefits and status as a Times of Israel Community member!

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Join our community
read more:
comments