84. The Special Rapporteur emphasizes that the death penalty for drug offences is in no circumstances permissible under international law. Both he and other actors, including the Human Rights Committee, have repeatedly underlined that drugs offences do not meet the threshold test of “most serious” crimes. The problem of migrants on death row for drugs offences is highlighted here not because it is normatively different, but because these cases make up a numerically significant proportion of cases. Moreover, as discussed below, this can have ramifications with respect to bilateral or multilateral assistance to programmes aimed at combating transnational drug trafficking.
96. Article 16 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility prohibits complicity in internationally wrongful acts. It is internationally wrongful for any State to impose the death penalty in violation of international law and, hence, all States must refrain from providing assistance in situations where the death penalty might be imposed in such a manner, for example, where it might be imposed for drug-related offences or for other crimes that do not meet the threshold of “most serious”.
103. At the most basic level, a State may share information or intelligence with another State concerning a criminal act, which may at some later stage be used as evidence in a judicial proceeding that results in a death sentence. Investigations by non-governmental organizations have highlighted how assistance from abolitionist States has contributed to death sentences for drug-related offences in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan. Because such intelligence-sharing often occurs at an agency-to-agency level, it is important that States develop guidance for their officials in this regard.
104. Technical assistance provided by States in combating drug crime, whether directly or via a multilateral agency such as UNODC, must begin with the assertion that the imposition of the death penalty for drug offences is a flagrant violation of international law.