Penalties for trafficking, possession for the intent of trafficking, and possession of narcotics (heroin); whether a crime of "transporting" or "carrying" of narcotics exists and is equivalent to the crime of possession [IRN31868.E]

A copy of Iran's Anti-Drug Law of 25 October 1988 is available in section 14 of Legislation in Iran available in Regional Documentation Centres. This document mentions the crimes of storing, transferring, dealing, smuggling, hiding, producing, distributing, as well as being addicted to drugs, but there is no mention of the crimes of "transporting" or "carrying" of drugs.

There are numerous documentary references to the existence of the death penalty in Iran for persons in possession of more than 30 grams of heroin (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 27 Feb. 1998; Xinhua 23 Nov. 1998; DPA 2 Dec. 1996), as well as the execution of persons in Iran convicted on drug charges (ibid.; Reuters 26 June 1996; International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 1 Mar. 1991). In addition to the references to the existence, and use of, the death penalty, there are numerous references to the Iranian government's tough stand on drugs (AFP 10 Aug. 1998; Xinhua 3 May 1998; AP 31 Jan. 1999). A 27 February 1998 report from the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran states that "sentences passed against producers and traffickers had been lengthened ten times" and that the country's Expediency Council had "recently passed a law for increasing punishment for drug activities."

However, there are other reports that indicate less severe punishment for users of drugs. The Press Association Newsfile states that "no one was reported executed for just using drugs. Addicts arrested for the first time are usually detoxicated in rehabilitation centres and released. Tehran newspapers say many go back to drugs" (23 June 1993). A 26 June 1996 Reuters report states that Iranian newspapers claimed that Iranians "officials were preparing a bill allowing Iran's estimated one million addicts to seek treatment without fear of prosecution." Furthermore, the government was considering setting up "more special camps for drug-related prisoners" (Xinhua 3 May 1998; AFP 10 Aug. 1998).

There are also numerous references to many arrests involving drugs. These include a 2 December 1996 DPA report that states "Iranian police arrested more than 14,000 drug traffickers during the past eight months"; a 26 June 1996 Reuters report of statements from Iranian police indicating that 46,000 people had been arrested on drug charges in the year ending 19 March 1996; a 15 January 1997 AFP report that 14,670 drug traffickers were arrested between March and November of 1996; a 24 June 1996 Reuters report of an Iranian radio broadcast indicating that 2,800 drug traffickers and 7,000 drug addicts had been arrested in a "recent month-long crackdown"; and, a 23 June 1993 report from Press Association Newsfile indicating that 8,615 drug addicts and 882 drug dealers were arrested in a "five-day sweep" in June of that year. There are also references to the high proportion of Iranian prison inmates who have been convicted on drug charges: "60 percent of 140,000 inmates" (AFP 10 Aug. 1998; The Christian Science Monitor 2 July 1998); 60 per cent of all inmates (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 17 Feb. 1999); and, the majority of Iran's 110,000 prisoners (Xinhua 19 Jan. 1999; DPA 22 Feb. 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 10 August 1998. "Iran to Set Up Special Camps to Detain Drug Traffickers." (NEXIS)

_____. 15 January 1997. "Iran Arrests Two Tanzanians Smuggling Heroin in Stomachs." (NEXIS)

Associated Press (AP). 31 January 1999. "Iran Seizes Tons of Drugs in Raid." (NEXIS)

The Christian Science Monitor. 2 July 1998. Scott Peterson. "Winning its Heroin War, Iran Wins Praise of US." (NEXIS)

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 22 February 1999. "Amnesty for a Quarter of Iranian Prisoners." (NEXIS)

_____. 2 December 1996. "Iranian Police Arrest More Than 14,000 Drug Traffickers." (NEXIS)

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. 1 March 1991. "Iran." (U.S. Department of State/NEXIS)

Press Association Newsfile. 23 June 1993. "Persistent Drug Users Face Execution in Iran." (NEXIS)

Reuters. 26 June 1996. "Iran Holds Drugs Bonfire on Anti-Narcotics Day." (NEXIS)

_____. 24 June 1996. "Iran Arrests Nearly 10,000 in Anti-Drugs Campaign." (NEXIS)

Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran [Tehran, in English]. 17 February 1999. "Head of Judiciary Says Drug Smugglers 60 Per Cent of Prisoners in Iran." (BBC Summary 19 Feb. 1999/NEXIS)

_____. 27 February 1998. "Iran Increases Punishment of Drug Traffickers Tenfold." (BBC 27 Feb. 1998/NEXIS)

Xinhua. 19 January 1999. "Iranian Leader Pardons 1,428 Prisoners." (NEXIS)

_____. 23 November 1998. "Iran Seizes Opium, Drug Traffickers." (NEXIS)

_____. 3 May 1998. "Drug Addicts Double in Iran in 4 Years." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Jane's Intelligence Review [Surrey, UK]. 1998.

United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, New York, NY USA. 1994. "Final report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran prepared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, pursuant to Commission resolution 1993/62 of 10 March 1993 and Economic and Social Council decision 1993/273." New York, NY: United Nations.

Electronic sources: IRB Databases, LEXIS/NEXIS, Internet, REFWORLD.

One non-documentary source contacted could not provide information on the requested subject.