The International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) recently published a report on the use of the death penalty for drug crimes around the world. The report distinguishes between countries that have legislation allowing a death sentence for drug offenses and those that actually apply it in practice. According to the report, 32 jurisdictions retain the death penalty for drug offenses (out of the 58 countries that have the death penalty for any offense), at least 12 of which were known to have carried out an execution for such offenses in the last three years. These countries include China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Viet Nam. Additionally, 13 of the 32 jurisdictions use a mandatory death penalty for certain categories of drug offenses. Five of the 32 jurisdictions are abolitionist in practice, i.e. they have not carried out an execution in many years. The United States, whose federal law allows the death penalty for certain drug offenses even where a murder has not occurred, is considered a jurisdiction with only symbolic commitment to such a practice since this part of the federal death penalty law has not been applied to any defendant. Read full report here.

(P. Gallahue and R. Lines, “The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2010,” International Harm Reduction Association, April 2010). Posted June 9, 2010. The IHRA is a non-governmental organization promoting policies to reduce harm from drugs. Click here to learn more about the International Death Penalty or for more Resources on the Death Penalty.