The head of Iranian prisons has announced that 10,000 prisoners charged with drug-related offences will be transferred to work camps.

IRNA reports that Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Friday March 1: “Ten thousand drug convicts will be transferred to work camps in Esfahan and Khorasan.”

He added that plans for work camps in the provinces of Tehran, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan have been delayed due to budget constraints.

Prison officials have stressed that the transfer of drug convicts to work camps is not due to a shortage of space in prisons but rather it’s an attempt to separate drug convicts from the general prison population.

The head of Iranian security forces, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, has spoken of work camps as a suitable form of punishment for drug convicts.

Drug charges are treated very seriously by the Islamic Republic judiciary, and serious drug offences often attract the death sentence.