Iran suspends executions after relaxing law on drug offences

President Hassan Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran

Iran on Monday suspended all cases in which people have been sentenced to death for drug offences, Ali Larijani, Speaker of the country’s parliament said.

Larijani said all the cases are to be reviewed.

“A block has also been placed on planned executions,’’ the Isna news agency reported.

According to official statistics, 4,000 people are currently on death row in Iran for drug offences.

The Iranian government officially abolished the death penalty for some drug-related crimes in November.

Larijani had previously defended capital punishment for drug dealers, claiming they were responsible for the deaths of thousands of young people and a lifetime of suffering for their families.

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“Without the death penalty and executions, drugs would be available in every supermarket,’’ he said.

In 2016, an inquiry found that, in spite of a high number of executions, the quantity and variety of drugs being smuggled into Iran was rising, rather than falling.

Iran has previously come under criticism from the international community for its stance on drug offences.

“The country’s legal authorities are currently considering which specific punishments would be appropriate as an effective alternative to the death penalty,’’ the local media report said.

Those convicted, for example, of small-scale dealing could be sentenced to several years in prison or community service.

Drug lords, however, are still expected to receive the death penalty.