Amnesty says drugs executions in Iran must end
Amnesty International said in a report Thursday that Iran must end its policy of executing people for drugs offences, saying the Islamic republic has launched "a killing spree of staggering proportions."
The London-based rights watchdog said in a report titled "Addicted to Death: Executions for Drug Offences in Iran" that this year has seen a dramatic rise in the number of people executed for drugs offences.
"To try to contain their immense drug problem, the Iranian authorities have carried out a killing spree of staggering proportions, when there is no evidence that execution prevents drug smuggling any more effectively than imprisonment" said Amnesty's Interim Middle East and North Africa deputy director, Ann Harrison.
The report said that "at least 488 people have been executed for alleged drug offences so far in 2011, a nearly threefold increase on the 2009 figures, when Amnesty International recorded at least 166 executions for similar offences."
"Drug offences go much of the way to accounting for the steep rise in executions we have seen in the last 18 months," Harrison said.
"Ultimately Iran must abolish the death penalty for all crimes, but stopping the practice of executing drug offenders, which violates international law, would as a first step cut the overall number significantly."
Amnesty said that during the middle of 2010, it began to receive credible reports of a new wave of executions for drug offences.
"These included reports of secret mass executions at Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad, with one -- on 4 August 2010 -- involving over 89 individuals."
It said Iran officially acknowledged 253 executions in 2010, of which 172 were for drug offences, almost 68 percent of the total, but Amnesty received credible reports of a further 300 executions, "the vast majority believed to be for drug-related offences."
Iran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order, and that it is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.
Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are among the crimes punishable by death in Iran.
© 2011 AFP