Call for joint action to stop drug-related executions in Iran

12:12 - 10 April 2024

The death penalty or state murder is the Islamic Republic’s most important tool for instilling societal fear to maintain power. Executions in Iran increased dramatically following the “Woman, Life, Freedom” uprising, with at least 834 people executed in 2023.

In 2023, more than half of all recorded executions in Iran were for drug-related charges. At least 471 people were executed without any backlash or political cost for the Islamic Republic. The majority of those executed are from deprived and marginalised communities. The number of executions carried out in the ethnic regions, particularly the Kurd and Baluch, is disproportionally high compared to their population. In 2023, a third of those executed for drug-related charges were Baluch people.

 Drug defendants are sentenced to death by Revolutionary Courts based on torture-tainted confessions, without due process and fair trial rights and often without access to a lawyer.

Drug-related executions have not received appropriate international reaction and their daily implementation is met with media silence. This has led to the authorities carrying out 18 times more drug executions in 2023 compared to 2020 with the lowest political cost.

On the other hand, the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) which cooperates with Iran in combating drug trafficking, has not only remained silent about the sharp hike in drug executions, but signed a new agreement with the Islamic Republic in May 2023. In addition to legitimising the state’s use of the death penalty, this cooperation also leads to more executions through financial aid and equipment.

We are concerned that hundreds more will be executed in the coming months if we do not increase the political cost of these executions for the Islamic Republic. We call on all human rights organisations and activists to take part in a special global campaign to stop drug-related executions in Iran.

The aim of the campaign is to echo the voice of the most voiceless victims of the Islamic Republic’s execution and intimidation machine. We also urge the UNODC to make any cooperation with the Islamic Republic contingent on a complete halt on drug-related executions.


Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO)

International Committee Against Execution (ICAE)

Global Campaign to Stop Executions In Iran

World Coalition Against the Death Penalty 

Defenders of Human Rights Center (Shirin Ebadi)

Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM)

Harm Reduction International 

Kurdistan Human Rights Association - Geneva 


The Baloch Activists Campaign

Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN)

6Rang (Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network) 

Kurdpa Human Rights Organization

Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO)

Justice for Iran

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani People in Iran (AHRAZ)

Center for Human Rights in Iran

United for Iran (U4I)

Hengaw Organization for Human Rights

HANA Human Rights Organization

Balochistan Human Rights Group


All Human Rights for All in Iran

United to End Executions in Iran

The Sunny Center Foundation (USA)

Hands Off Cain 

Abolition Death Penalty of Iraq Organization 

Rescue Alternatives Liberia 

ACAT Belgique 

The Christian Union for Progress and Human Rights, DRC

Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, Guatemala 

Death Penalty Focus (USA)

Key and Vulnerable Population Tanzania (KVP Forum)

Capital Punishment Justice Project, Australia 

Eleos Justice, Monash University, Australia 

ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)

German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (GCADP)

Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany

Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), South Korea

Humanity Diaspo, France

 Italian Federation for Human Rights (FIDU)

SALAM DHR (Bahrain)

ACAT France

Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI)

Association des Chercheurs Iraniens (ACI)

ArcDH Human Rights of Azerbaijanis of Iran

Kanoon-e Khavaran

NIKA, Network of Iranians for Liberty and Democracy 

Free Them Now

Frauen für Freiheit e.v

Solidarität mit der Iranischen Revolution - Frankfurt/Mainz

 Iranian Voices in Frankfurt

Bramsh - Voice of Balochistan Women

International Iranian Physicians and Healthcare Providers Association (IIPHA)

Aktion für Menschenrechte e.V.

Simorgh; Centre socio-culturel des Iraniens de Québec

Free Human Association

Iranian Healthcare Association for Democracy and Human Rights

Nemiran Center

Women’s Independence and Sustainable Equality (WISE)

Stop Child Executions (SCE)

Hanai Rojhelat

Alborz, Paris - collectif en soutien au soulèvement "Femme, Vie, Liberté", France

Transnational Community Federation e.V

HÁ Organization

Norsk Iransk Råd

SolidIran Association

Minnesota 4Iran

Ensemble pour l’Iran

Centre Zagros pour les Droits de l’Homme

Kurdistan Human Rights Reporters Center

Iransk Solidaritetsforum

Woman-Life-Freedom, Melbourne

Feminista Bonn

Justice Supporters Association

International Women in Power

Alliance Path for Iran (API)

Volunteer Doctors of Kurdistan

Rev Group Iran

Frau Leben Freiheit Darmstadt

Rojhalat Women Organisation