Iran executes ‘all men in village’ on drugs charges

February 26, 2016

The entire male adult population of an Iranian village has been executed on drugs charges, an Iranian official has claimed, amid concerns over a United Nations programme that funds the country’s Anti-Narcotics Police.

Iran’s Vice President for Women & Family Affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, is reported to have made the claims to state news agency Mehr earlier this week, saying: “We have a village in Sistan & Baluchestan where every single man has been executed”, adding: “The children [of these men] are potential drug traffickers.”

The comments – unearthed by the group Iran Human Rights – come amid growing concerns over the link between a recent surge in drug-related executions in Iran, and European funding, channeled through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Iran is the world’s second most prolific executioner, and approximately 600 out of 947 hangings in Iran in 2015 were related to alleged drug offences – as were at least 31 carried out so far this year. Concerns over unfair trials, forced ‘confessions’, and juvenile arrests, are common.

Research in 2014 by the human rights organization Reprieve demonstrated a link between previous rounds of European UNODC funding, and over 3,000 death sentences in Iran and Pakistan. In 2013, Danish Development Minister Christian Bach concluded that Denmark’s contributions to UNODC’s Iran programmes “are leading to executions.”

The new $20million UNODC programme for Iran was signed at the start of 2016, and is set to provide funding and equipment to Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Police, who are responsible for drug-related arrests. The European Union helped to negotiate the UN funding deal, and several European countries, including France, are understood to be providing funds for the programme. Britain and the US, while not direct funders of the programme, are among the UNODC’s major donors.

A number of UN human rights experts, as well as Reprieve and Iran Human Rights, have urged the UNODC to reconsider the new Iran funding in light of the hangings.

Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:

“The apparent hanging of every man in one Iranian village demonstrates the astonishing scale of Iran’s execution spree. These executions – often based on juvenile arrests, torture, and unfair or nonexistent trials – show total contempt for the rule of law, and it is shameful that the UN and its funders are supporting the police forces responsible. UNODC must urgently make its new Iran funding conditional on an end to the death penalty for drug offences.”


1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] / +1 917 855 8064.

2. The comments by Shahindokht Molaverdi are available via state media here (Farsi), and are reported by Iran Human Rights (English) here.

3. Detail on the recently-signed UNODC agreement with Iran is available here.

4. Reprieve’s 2014 research on European support for counter-narcotics programmes in Iran and Pakistan is available here, while more recent detail on the European Union’s donations to UNODC is available here.