Report on Death Penalty for Drug Offenses

Harm Reduction International has released a new report: The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2011

One of the key findings of the report is:

There are likely to be more than a thousand people executed every year for a drug offence and in many environments the majority or even totality are non-nationals of the executing state.

The countries that do the most executing particularly like to execute people who come from other countries (don’t assume that being an American will protect you).

Harm Reduction International points out the state of international law regarding execution, particularly for drug offenses:

The lawful application of capital punishment is significantly restricted under international law. Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the penalty of death may only be applied to the ‘most serious crimes’. Over the past twenty-five years UN human rights bodies have interpreted Article 6(2) in a manner that limits the number and type of offences for which execution is allowable under international human rights law. While many retentionist governments argue that drug offences fall under the umbrella of ‘most serious crimes’, this is not the perspective of the UN Human Rights Committee or the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, both of which have stated that drug offences do not constitute ‘most serious crimes’ and that executions for such offences are therefore in violation of international human rights law. This is supported by international State practice given the small minority of countries retaining capital punishment for drugs. In recent years there has also been increasing support for the belief that capital punishment in any form violates the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, as enshrined in numerous UN and regional human rights treaties, and customary international law.

I’d like to see the UNODC focus more on this area. When UNODC head Yury Fedetov recently visited Iran and praised them effusively for their drug seizures, saying:

“Iran is our important partner in the war on drugs,” he said, adding, it is a “good and reliable” partner for the international community as well.

“We will make efforts to increase international support for Iran,” he added.

Where was the admonishment for their execution of drug offenders in violation of UN law? According to reports (including from Iran government sources) as detailed in the HRI document, Iran executed at least 590 last year for drug offenses and has executed over 10,000 for drug offenses since 1979.

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5 Responses to Report on Death Penalty for Drug Offenses

  1. DdC says:

    What to Make of Sarah Palin’s Alleged Cocaine Use
    It is time for voters to punish elected officials for supporting draconian laws that punish what they themselves have done. full story

    Marijuana Derivative May Offer Hope in Cocaine Addiction

    Oh The Irony:
    Speaker Of The House John Boehner Continues To Support Marijuana Prohibition

    Fallin Voices Opposition to Legal Marijuana in Oklahoma
    During Online GOP Forum

  2. DdC says:

    Dung worriers never know who’s lives they may be ruining… Or taking.

    What Made America’s Most-Loved Humorist So Funny?
    CC – Mark Twain turned to writing humor after meeting the author of The Hasheesh Eater in San Francisco – and possibly trying it himself.

    It appears that a “Hasheesh” mania has broken out among our Bohemians. Yesterday, Mark Twain and the “Mouse-Trap” man [Tremenheere Lanyon Johns] were seen walking up Clay street under the influence of the drug, followed by a “star,” who was evidently laboring under a misapprehension as to what was the matter with them.

    Tennessee Congressman Steven Cohen (D)
    Demands The Drug Czar Reschedule Marijuana,
    Acknowledge It’s Medical Utility

  3. Randy says:

    Pete, the UN? Really? Even if Iran and other countries were found by the UN to be in violation of UN or international “law” over the execution of drug law offenders, how does one go about enforcing these conventions or laws?

    Don’t get me wrong, I hope something can be done, but I have my doubts about the UN being able to do anything here.

    • Pete says:

      Randy, I don’t expect the U.N. to be able to enforce these notions, but they shouldn’t be going over there and fellating them for being all drug war gung-ho, without chastising them for their violation of basic human rights.

      The way the UNODC works now, is that as long as the government is hard line on the drug war, they get a thumbs up from the UNODC regardless of the abuses, which gives that government cover with human rights organizations (after all, they’re fighting the war on drugs).

      If the UNODC called them out for not cooperating in the war on drugs because they execute people, it would help apply pressure.

      Iran loves to tell the world that they’re really good at the war on drugs, so Yury’s visit praising them validates them and gives them international publicity.

  4. Duncan20903 says:

    Say, did anyone else know that the Chinese execute bureaucrats for corruption and/or incompetence?

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