The use of the death penalty against drug offenders continues at a brisk pace in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In the past week, Iran executed five more drug offenders, while in Vietnam, prosecutors demanded 11 death sentences for traffickers and the courts upheld one more.
According to the international anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain, Iranian authorities executed five men November 20 in the eastern city of Birjand for distributing 146 kilos of narcotics. The men were not named. The following day, a man identified only by his first name, Gholam Reza, was hanged in Qom for trafficking in 90 kilos of narcotics.
The same day Iran executed the five men in Birjand, a United Nations General Assembly committee passed a non-binding resolution urging Iran to "abolish, in law and in practice, public executions and other executions carried out in the absence of respect for internationally recognized standards."
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese justice system has been busily calling for and upholding drug trafficking death sentences, too. On November 21, a court in Ho Chi Minh City threw out the appeal of Australian-born Tony Manh, 40, and upheld his death sentence for trafficking two pounds of heroin. He had been arrested at Tan Son Nhat airport after security officers found the heroin hidden on his body as he prepared to board a plane for Sydney.
And Wednesday, prosecutors in Hanoi called for the death penalty to be imposed on 11 people involved in an organization that smuggled 416 kilos of heroin. Death sentences were demanded for ringleader Luong Ngoc Lap and 10 of his lieutenants, while prosecutors demanded life sentences for seven others and 18-to-20 years in prison for three more. The call for the death penalty and other sentences came at the end of a four-day trial in what is northern Vietnam's largest drug case ever.