The number of people executed in Iran for cases linked to drug trafficking or use has tripled this year compared to 2022, Amnesty International reports today.

At least 173 people were executed in 2023 after being sentenced to death for drug law violations following “systematically unfair trials,” three times as many as during the same period in 2022, according to a statement by the human rights non-governmental organization.

Iranian authorities also hanged seven men for taking part in the mass protests that broke out in September 2022; however, activists point out that executions in general, for offenses of all kinds, especially drug cases, have been on the rise in recent months.

Executions for drug cases account for two-thirds of the total in the first five months of 2023, and the people put to death are mostly from “marginalized and poor sections of the population” in the Islamic Republic.

In particular, the NGO pointed out that members of Iran’s Baloch minority represent about 20% of the prisoners executed, even though they “make up only 5% of Iran’s population”.

“The current pace at which the authorities are carrying out executions for drug-related offences, in violation of international law, reveals their inhumanity,” said Diana Eltahawi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and Africa. north africa.

Executions in Iran had been on the decline for some time, particularly after the adoption in 2017 of an amendment to anti-narcotics legislation to reduce the imposition of capital punishment for offenses related to drug trafficking or use. But, according to activists, they began to rise again after 2020, and Iranian authorities are now executing prisoners for all sorts of crimes in order to instill fear in the population, especially after September 2022, when mass anti-government protests broke out.

The United Nations Office on Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ONUDC) and UN member states that fund its activities are now under increasing pressure to condemn the spate of executions.

“The international community must ensure that cooperation in counter-narcotics initiatives does not contribute, directly or indirectly, to the arbitrary taking of life and other human rights violations in Iran,” stressed Ms. Eltahawi.

According to the non-governmental organization Iran Human Rights (IHR), which is based in Norway, at least 307 people have been executed this year, an increase of more than 75% compared to the same period last year, while at least 142 people were killed in May, the highest monthly number since 2015.

“If the authorities continue to carry out executions in total at this appalling rate, they could kill almost a thousand prisoners by the end of the year,” Amnesty International says.