Iran's parliament softens death penalty law for drug trafficking
Iran's parliament passed a long-awaited amendment to its drug trafficking laws on Sunday, raising the threshold for capital punishment and potentially saving the lives of many currently on death row.
Iran was one of the top five countries for executions in 2016, with most of its hangings related to illicit drugs.
At least 89 juvenile offenders are on death row in Iran, making it one of the last countries in the world to execute people for crimes committed when they were aged under-18.
The new law raises the amount of drugs that can warrant the death penalty from 30 grams to two kilos for the production or distribution of chemical substances such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines.
For opium and marijuana, the levels have been raised from five to 50 kilos.
The bill must still be approved by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council but gained parliamentary approval after months of debate.
The new amendment will apply retroactively, commuting the sentences for many of the 5,300 inmates currently on death row for drug trafficking.