"In 2021, 35 countries retain the death penalty for a range of drug offences. Civil society had grounds for optimism at the beginning of the year, thanks to some promising developments in 2020: in Singapore, no executions took place for the first time since 2013; and in Saudi Arabia, Prince Salman declared a moratorium on drug-related executions at the beginning of 2020. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Biden-Harris victory in the 2020 elections raised hopes for new legislation abolishing the federal death penalty in the US.5

"At the end of 2021, the situation appears more uncertain. While no executions were reported in Saudi Arabia and Singapore in 2021, a sudden increase in executions was noted in Iran. This sharp reversal of the 2018-2020 trend, together with unexpected news of death sentences in low application countries, resulted in a rise of both drug-related sentences and executions in 2021.

"As of December 2021, Harm Reduction International (HRI) recorded at least 131 executions for drug offences globally, a 336% increase from 2020. It is imperative to note that this number is likely to represent only a fraction of all drug-related executions carried out globally."


Ajeng Larasati and Giada Girelli, The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2021," Harm Reduction International, 2022.