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Iran’s top prosecutor calls for revisions in use of death penalty

Iran’s top prosecutor recommends reconsidering the cases of smaller drug offenders to address the high level of executions in the country.
Iranian nominee for intelligence minister, Ghlamhossin Mohseni Ejei (below) speaks to lawmakers as parliament speaker Gholamali Haddadadel looks on in Iranian parliament in Tehran August 22, 2005. Ahmadinejad on Sunday recommended his chosen cabinet to potentially hostile parliamentarians who must approve his selections. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi  RH/TW - RTRL9BK

Prosecutor-General Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei said on May 6 during a meeting of the High Council for Human Rights in Iran, "Unfortunately, the high number of executions in this country is related to drugs smuggling and the heavy penalties of this phenomenon. If within the existing laws we can review it in a way that we help the intelligence officials to punish the leaders of these smuggling networks, and for the rest we reconsider [their punishment], the goals of the system can better be realized with respect to drugs.”

While there are many caveats to Ejei’s statement, it is noteworthy that a figure with his background would make this suggestion publicly at this type of session. Ejei serves as the spokesman for the judiciary and is one of the more hard-line figures in Iran. He was one of the first Iranian officials to be sanctioned by the US government for human rights violations in 2010. He served as former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s intelligence minister from August 2005 to July 2009, and he has been a vocal critic of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration’s efforts to release the leaders of the Green Movement.

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