UK, France and Ireland complicit in treatment of Iranian man facing second hanging

October 16, 2013

A number of European countries are complicit in the treatment of an Iranian man sentenced to death on drugs offences, who survived being hanged but will face a second attempt once “his health condition is good enough,” according to Iran’s authorities.

European countries – including the UK, France and Ireland – are linked to the incident as they have provided millions of dollars’ worth of funding to counter-narcotics forces in Iran, without securing the conditions necessary to ensure such assistance does not contribute to the death penalty.

The NGO Iran Human Rights quotes the country’s state broadcaster in saying that “a 37 year old man identified as ‘Alireza M’ was executed by hanging on October 9, convicted of possession of 1 kilograms of crystal,” but was later found to be still breathing.  Mohammad Erfan, a judge in the administrative Court has reportedly said that “The man has been sentenced to death…his death sentence will be carried out once the medical staff confirm that his health condition is good enough.”

According to documents unearthed by human rights charity Reprieve, the UK has provided at least £3.6m of support to Iranian counter-narcotics programmes via the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Meanwhile, Ireland has contributed a total of $683,858 to two UNODC counter narcotics projects, both focussed on Iran.  One of these projects is on-going, and also funded by France, Japan and Denmark – although the latter country recently announced that it would stop funding projects in Iran due to the death penalty issue.

According to Sky News, more than 1,200 people were executed for drugs offences in Iran between 2007 and 2011 and the proportion of total executions for drug crime rose from 28% to 82% in that time.  Children are among the hundreds of people executed for drugs offences every year by Iran.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty Team said: “This shocking case should surely persuade European states to stop funding the death penalty in Iran.  By providing support, without securing safeguards that it will not be used to help execute people, taxpayers’ money in Britain, Ireland, France and elsewhere is contributing to the hundreds of executions carried out by Iran for drugs offences.  Governments across Europe must follow Denmark’s lead, and stop aid for executions.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell on +44 (0) 7791 755 415 /

2. Documentation showing the support provided by European countries to counter-narcotics programmes in Iran is available on request.

3. Information from Iran Human Rights on the case can be found here:

4. Denmark’s decision to end funding for counter-narcotics in Iran was announced earlier this year – see ‘Denmark ends Iranian drug crime support,’ Copenhagen Post, 9 April 2013.

5. For further information on UK funding for executions in Iran, see also ‘British Aid ‘Funding Iranian Executions,’’ Sky News, 2  January 2013.