The Death Penalty for Drug Offences

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2017

Our Global Overview series monitors the death penalty for drugs in law and practice worldwide, and also considers critical developments on the issue. Since being launched in 2007, Harm Reduction International's death penalty work has been the leading global resource on the issue of the death penalty for drug offences.

Among the key findings from the 2017 Global Overview report:

  • At least 33 countries and territories prescribe the death penalty for drug offences in law.
  • At least nine countries still have the death penalty for drug offences as a mandatory sanction, although three of these (Brunei Darussalam, Laos and Myanmar) are abolitionist in practice. Malaysia removed the mandatory sentence for drug offences in November 2017.
  • Between January 2015 and December 2017, at least 1,320 people are known to have been executed for drug-related offences - 718 in 2015; 325 in 2016; and 280 in 2017. These estimates do not include China, as reliable figures continue to be unavailable for the country.
  • Taking China out of the equation due to a lack of data, Iran has been the world’s top executioner for drug offences by far, with at least 1,176 executions carried out since January 2015. That amounts to nearly 90% of all known drug-related executions during that period.
  • Between 2015 and 2017, executions for drug offences took place in at least five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Singapore.

The report also reveals a critical tension: the situation is at once improving and deteriorating. On the one hand, recent positive developments provide a glimmer of hope that the tide could finally be shifting. At the national level, executions for drug offences have been steadily declining in High Application States since 2015, and important legal and policy changes have taken place in several countries, including Iran, Thailand and Malaysia.

At the international level, political support for the abolition of the death penalty for drug offences is also gaining considerable momentum. The 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs failed to reach consensus on the death penalty for drug offences, but 73 countries expressed strong support for abolition, proving that the issue is firmly on the radar of the global community.

On the other hand, these signs of progress are being overshadowed by the surge in extrajudicial executions of people accused of using or selling drugs in the Philippines. Worrying signs that Indonesia may be adopting a similar violent response, and the explicit support for President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ expressed by other countries in the region and beyond, raise serious concerns about whether we are seeing a new trend which could normalise the killing of people for drugs and undo years of steady progress.

Find out more about recent developments in the 2017 Global Overview, available here. 

The 2017 Global Overview has been published with support from the European Union.

___________________________________________________

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2015: The Extreme Fringe of Global Drug Policy PDF document

Since being launched in 2007, HRI's death penalty project has been the leading global resource on the issue of the death penalty for drug offences. Our 'Global Overview’ series, one of the… Read more

Joint Statement on the Death Penalty for Drug Offences PDF document

HRI and ten partners issue a statement on the death penalty for drug offences following the launch of the 2014 INCB Annual Report Read more

Death Penalty for Drug Offences Global Overview 2012: Tipping the Scales for Abolition

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2012 – Tipping the Scales for Abolition is Harm Reduction International’s third annual overview on the status of the death penalty for drug… Read more

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2011 - Shared Responsibility & Shared Consequences

‘Global Overview 2011 – Shared Responsibility and Shared Consequences’ is the fourth report on the death penalty for drug-related offences produced by Harm Reduction International. In addition to… Read more

Complicity or Abolition? The Death Penalty and International Support for Drug Enforcement PDF document

Released in June 2010 - Complicity or Abolition? The Death Penalty and International Support for Drug Enforcement - exposes the links between the carrying out of executions and the financial… Read more

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2010 PDF document

Harm Reduction International released a study on the death penalty for drug offences today on the opening day of the 19th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice,… Read more

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences PDF document

On 10th December 2007 – to coincide with International Human Rights Day – Harm Reduction International’s HR2 (harm reduction and human rights) team released a major report entitled The Death Penalty… Read more

Download a PDF of "The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2017"

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences – Global Overview 2018 cover

© 2018 Harm Reduction International.

Charity number – 1117375 | Company number – 3223265

Powered by Phoenix Media Group