Majles Judicial Commission Moves On Measure to Reduce Drug Executions
After months of consideration, the Judicial Commission of the Iranian Majles has taken initial action on a proposal meant to reduce the country’s high rates of execution for drug offenders, reports Voice of America Persian.
The Commission’s decision clears the way for an addendum to Iran’s exacting drug law; significantly, the content of the addendum itself remains subject to its review.
In Sunday, February 12 remarks made to the Khane-ye Melat news service affiliated with the Majles, Judicial Commission spokesperson Hassan Nowrouzi stated that the new proposal affecting clause 46 of the Anti-Narcotics Law substitutes the former penalties of capital punishment and life imprisonment with an array of fines and lengthy prison terms. The Commission has been investigating a measure forwarded by Majles representatives with input from experts from the Intelligence Ministry, Judiciary, Prosecutor General’s Office, the Judiciary’s Human Rights Center, security forces, and Majles research bodies, according to Nowrouzi.
Should the measure finally clear the Commission, the measure faces two more steps in Iran’s legislative process: final confirmation by the Majles and approval by the Guardian Council. If passed into law, the reform stands to reduce Iran’s striking rates of executions for those convicted of drug-related offenses.
In just the past five years, Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation has documented more than 4,100 cases of execution in Iran. More than half of those the Judiciary has put to death were charged with drug crimes, including 59 in January 2017 alone.
The Majles first approved the urgency of the reform measure in late November 2016. The move has occasioned a wide debate from many quarters of Iranian government and civil society. Mohamamd Masoud Zahedian, head of Iran’s Anti-Drug Police Force, has staunchly defended the existing capital punishment regime, characterizing reform efforts as attempts to “sow discord in society.” Experts like like Iran Lawyers’ Union Head Bahman Keshavarz and Paymon Hajj-Mohammad Attar have challenged the death penalty on grounds of law, religious jurisprudence, and efficacy. Keshavarz noted in December of last year that “It’s an established fact that severity of punishment and capital punishment do not, in the long- and mid-term, deter different sorts of crime, and drug crimes are no exception to this rule.”