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 â€˜most serious crimesâ€™. 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 â€˜most serious crimesâ€™, 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 â€˜most serious crimesâ€™ 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.