Mohammad Javad Larijani in Genf. - Photo by AP

PRETORIA: Iran's top human rights official on Thursday blamed the high number of executions in the country on the European opium trade and called on Europe to do more in the war on drugs.

“The number of executions in Iran is high because 74 per cent of those executed are traffickers in large quantities of opium from Afghanistan bound for European markets,” Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran's Supreme Council for Human Rights, told journalists.

“Iran cannot win the war on drug trafficking alone. If Europe is interested in this war they should participate.”Larijani's comments came after a meeting with South African Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim, who said his country is concerned about Iran's “excessive” use of the death penalty and other human rights issues.

But Larijani said the price of fewer prisoner hangings in Iran would be a surge in the flow of drugs through the country.

“There is an easy way for Iran and that is to close our eyes so drug traffickers can just pass through Iran to anywhere they want to go,” he said.

“The number of executions in Iran would drop 74 per cent. That would be very good for our reputation.”Possession of more than 30 grams (just over an ounce) of narcotics is punishable by death in Iran, as are murder, rape, armed robbery and adultery.

The country has come under fire from activists for the large number of prisoners it executes 179 last year, according to Iranian media.

But international human rights groups say the actual number was much higher, making the Islamic republic second only to China in the number of people it put to death.



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