The death penalty continues to be inflicted on drug offenders, primarily in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. According to Hands Off Cain, a Rome-based anti-death penalty organization affiliated with the nonviolent Radical movement, Iran executed two drug offenders last week, while Vietnam sentenced six others to death.
In Iran, two men identified only as Ali D. and Karim T. were hanged September 6 in the port city of Bandar Abbas for trafficking in heroin and opium. Under Iranian law, the death penalty can be inflicted for possession of more than 30 grams of heroin or five kilograms of opium. Iranian law also allows the death penalty for murder, armed robbery, apostasy, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, and plotting to overthrow the government. Iranian authorities say most executions are carried out against drug offenders, but human rights groups believe many people executed for drug crimes in Iran may in fact be political opponents of the regime.
Meanwhile, a court in northern Vietnam has sentenced six men to death and two others to life in prison for trafficking in heroin. The sentences were handed down in the People's Court of Thanh Hoa province in a case involving 4.66 kilograms of heroin. Under Vietnamese drug laws, among the toughest in the world, possession or smuggling 100 grams of heroin or five kilograms of opium is punishable by death. The Vietnamese People's Supreme Court issued slightly more lenient sentencing guidelines in 2001 -- capital punishment only for smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin -- but those guidelines are not strictly implemented.