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U.N. Anti-Drug Official Praises Iran Despite Surge In Executions

By Shawn Dwyer 03/11/14

Despite the refusal of European countries like Britain and Denmark to provide anti-drug funding, Yury Fedotov said that the United Nations' drug office will continue its support.

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Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), recently hailed Iran’s efforts in combating the narcotics trade despite human rights groups criticizing the country for executing people charged with drug-related offenses.

“Iran takes a very active role to fight against illicit drugs," Fedotov told reporters at an international meeting in Vienna on combating drugs. “It is very impressive.”

In mid-January, Amnesty International said that Iran had executed 40 people since the beginning of the year, with a vast majority being punished for their roles in drug-related crimes. Because of Iran’s draconian policy of sentencing drug traffickers to death for carrying in excess of five kilos of narcotics, European counties like Britain and Denmark have stopped giving funds to UNODC’s drug control programs in Iran. According to Fedotov, however, such refusals would not deter his agency’s support for Iran’s efforts.

"I don't believe that the international community would welcome this because it would mean, as a possible reaction from Iran, that all these huge quantities of drugs, which are now being seized by Iranians, would flow freely to Europe," he said.

Iran already struggles to receive international aid for its anti-narcotic policies – they only get about $3 million annually – but they seize eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all other countries in the world combined. A large part of that has to do with bordering Afghanistan, which provides 90 percent of the world’s heroin, according to UNODC.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.

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