NGO report

The Death Penalty For Drug Offences: Global Overview 2023

By Harm Reduction International, on 28 March 2024

Drug Offenses

Published in 2023.

At the end of 2023, 34 countries retained the death for drug offences. In July 2023 Pakistan took the landmark decision to remove the death penalty from the list of punishments that can be imposed for certain violations of its Control of Narcotics Substances Act. This year also saw notable progress in Malaysia, which abolished the mandatory death penalty for all offences, including drug-related ones. This reform may impact the lives of over 700 people on death row for drug offences and bring the country one step closer to total abolition of capital punishment. In stark contrast to these positive developments is the record-high number of drug-related executions in 2023 at least 467. Of those executed, at least 59 people belonged to ethnic minority groups (in Iran and in Singapore), 13 individuals were foreign nationals, and six were women. These figures confirm that these groups are uniquely vulnerable to capital punishment as a tool of drug control. Despite not accounting for the dozens, if not hundreds, of executions believed to have taken place in China, Vietnam, and North Korea, the 467 executions that took place in 2023 represent a 44% increase from 2022.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Themes list Drug Offenses