Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Death Penalty for Drug Offenders in Asia Countries

According to Amnesty International, the death penalty has been abolished in law or practice in 133 states. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the use of capital punishment, while not prohibited, is restricted in several ways. One of the key restrictions is contained in Article 6(2), which states that the penalty of death may only be applied for the ‘most serious crimes’.
However, many retentionist states continue to argue that drug crimes fall under the umbrella of ‘most serious crimes’ and claim that the use of capital punishment for drug offences is justified.

According Article 6(2) of the ICCPR the penaltyof death may only be applied to the ‘most serious crimes’. These include:
‘Most serious crimes’ should be interpreted in the most restrictive and exceptional manner possible.
The death penalty should only be considered in cases where the crime is intentional and results in lethal or extremely grave consequences.
States should repeal
Legislation prescribing capital punishment for economic, non-violent or victimless offences.

Over the past twenty-five years, human rights bodies have interpreted Article 6(2) in a manner that limits the number and types of offences for which execution is allowable under international human rights law.

In 1985, the death penalty for drug offences was in force in twenty-two countries. Ten years later, in 1995, this number had increased to twenty-six. By the end of 2000, at least thirty four states had enacted legislation providing for capital punishment for drug crimes, the majority of these being in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia Pacific regions. In a number of these countries, certain drug offences carry a mandatory sentence of death.

A review of various reports from UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and media outlets shows that in recent year executions for drug offences have been carried out in countries including China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“More than 50 journalists, ministers and officials [in Thailand] witnessed the execution in April [2001] of four men convicted of drug offences and one of murder. The men were only given two hours’ notice that they were to die
that day. Suranit Chaugyampin, advisor to the prime minister’s office, was quoted as saying that it was being done for psychological reasons, to let those involved in the drug trade see that the government was serious in their efforts to stamp it out”. (Amnesty International The Death Penalty Worldwide: Developments in 2001 April 2002).

Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently provided unpublished data from the previous government’s investigation into the 2003 war on drugs, which found that 2,819 people were killed in 2,559 murder cases between February and April in 2003. Of those killed, more than half had no relation to drug dealing or had no apparent reason for their deaths.

On 2003 February 1st Brutal campaign had been published. In fact purpose of this campaign is to wipe out methamphetamine trafficking in 3 months. Four Component of this campaign are;
Drug user need treatment
Drug dealer is the main target
Each Province assign to have target of arresting and amount of drugs seize. Senior government officer (Governor, Head of Police Dept, etc) if they can’t achieve the target they will be fired.
Police and other government officers will be rewarded a lot of money for each arrest and % from drugs confiscation.

Government collect information for those who has been suspect engage on drugs trafficking and put it on the list known as “Black List”. Mean while drug dealers must surrender them self and sworn to quit.

Seven weeks later, news from the press state that around 2700 people has been murder. Almost everyone shoot form short distance with gun. Every night government TV, shows scene of people die with their body cover by full of blood.

Based on Indonesia National Narcotic Board -2007 data, there are 72 “Drug Offenders” face Death Penalty. This number means nothing caused drug use in Indonesia keeps increasing.
As we can see from table above, each year % of drugs seized keep increasing. As part of law enforcement Police has implemented a failure Policy. A policy that not solved the problem but
make it even worse. Indonesia Narcotic & Psychotropic Law still doesn’t have specific measurement to differentiate whether a person should be charged as drug user or drug dealer.

Possession of 1kg of opium can bring execution in Malaysia. A 1991 examination of the use of the mandatory death penalty for drugs in Malaysia concluded that ‘The actual data…shows that Malaysia’s solution to the drug problem is not effective’, highlighting that, despite the introduction of the death penalty for drugs in 1975, data on drug use suggest Malaysia ‘has one of the world’s highest per capita populations of drug addicts and users’, a point ‘vehemently denied by the government, but supported by its own official statistics’. The research asks whether the lack of convenient international fight connections through Malaysia may actually have a greater impact than the mandatory death penalty on reducing the level of drug trafficking. More recently, member of the ruling government party in Malaysia stated during a 2005 parliamentary debate on drug policy that ‘the mandatory death sentence…has not been effective in curtailing drug trafficking’. The problem that the official data pose for utilitarian rationales in Malaysia may explain why the government of Singapore ceased regular publication of crime statistics in the 1980s, thereby making its claims of the death penalty’s effectiveness impossible to test. Between July 2004 and July 2005, thirty-six of the fifty-two executions carried out were for drug trafficking. In April 2005, the Internal Security Ministry reported to the Malaysian parliament that 229 people had been executed for drug trafficking over the previous thirty years.

Singapore’s narcotics legislation does not prohibit ‘heroin’ but specifies ‘diamorphine’(the pharmaceutical name for prescription-grade heroin) instead. On this basis, the government of Singapore has claimed, in response to criticism, that its law only imposes the death penalty for persons convicted of possessing or trafficking more than 15g of pure heroin, which in its calculations is equivalent to ‘a slab of approximately 750g of street heroin’. If the intention of this statement is to imply that Singapore maintains a higher threshold for death penalty crimes than countries whose laws only proscribe heroin, this claim opens up further regional inconsistencies as, for example, it legislates a threshold fifty times greater than neighboring Malaysia, whose legislation prohibits 15g of ‘heroin’ rather than of ‘diamorphine’.

The government of Singapore, for has defended its use of capital punishment because ‘tough anti-drug laws have worked well in Singapore’s context to deter and punish drug traffickers’ and are ‘necessary legislation to help us keep our country drug-free’. Since 1991, more than 400 people have been executed in Singapore, the majority for drug offences. It has been reported that between 1994 and 1999, 76 per cent of all executions were drug-related. According to media reports, Singapore executed seventeen people for drug crimes in 2000, and twenty-two in 2001.26 in 2004, Amnesty International suggested that Singapore has perhaps the highest per capita execution rate in the world.

The government of Vietnam admitted in a 2003 submission to the UN Human Rights Committee that, ‘over the last years, the death penalty has been mostly given to persons engaged in drug trafficking.’
According to a recent media report, ‘Around 100 people are executed by firing squad in Vietnam each year, mostly for drug-related offences.’ One UN human rights monitor commenting on the situation noted that ‘Concerns have been expressed that at least one third of all publicized death sentences in Vietnam are imposed for drug-related crimes’. In Vietnam, the quantity necessary to constitute a capital crime is double that amount (100g).

In recent years, China has used the UN’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, 26 June, to conduct public executions of drug offenders. In 2001, over fifty people were convicted and publicly executed for drug crimes at mass rallies, at least one of which was broadcast on state television. 28 In 2002, the day was marked by sixty four public executions in rallies across the country, the largest of which took place in the south-western city of Chongqing, where twenty-four people were shot. A UN human rights monitor reported ‘dozens’ of people being executed to mark the day in 2004,30 and Amnesty International recorded fifty-five executions for drug offences over a two-week period running up to 26June 2005. In China, the death penalty may be applied for possession of 50g of heroin and Possession of 1kg of opium can bring execution in China.

In Iran, penalties for possession may be calculated cumulatively. For example, a mandatory death sentence is imposed for possession of more than 30g of heroin or 5kg of opium. Under Iranian legislation, this quantity may be based upon the amount seized during a single arrest, or may be added together over a number of cases. Therefore a person with several convictions for possession of smaller quantities may receive a mandatory death sentence if the total amount of drugs seized from all convictions exceeds the proscribed threshold. Iranian narcotics control legislation prescribing the death penalty upon a repeat conviction for ‘intentionally causing another person to be addicted to the drugs’

Saudi Arabia
In 2004, Amnesty International reported that twenty-six of the fifty executions conducted in Saudi Arabia in the previous year were for drug related offences. 19 The following year, in the same country, Amnesty reported that ‘at least’ thirty-three executions were carried out for drug offences.

India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
The comparing the neighboring states of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, a region described by both a Bangladeshi Minister of Home Affairs and an Indian representative to the UN as a transit route between the two major opium-producing areas of the ‘Golden Triangle’ and the ‘Golden Crescent’. Under Sri Lankan legislation, the death penalty may be applied for trafficking, importing/exporting or possession of only 2g of heroin. Yet a conviction for that same quantity of heroin in Bangladesh, Pakistan or India – where the death penalty is prescribed for possession of 25g, 100g, 103 and 1kg respectively – would not nearly approach the level of a capital offence. The same legislation reveals a similar disparity in the threshold for opium: Pakistan, the most restrictive of these jurisdictions in this regard, prescribes the death penalty for possession of over 200g, a quantity far smaller than in the legislation of Sri Lanka (500g), Bangladesh (2kg) or India (10kg).

· Opium laws in our region are equally inconsistent. While 1kg of opium can bring execution in China, across the border in Laos the quantity is 5kg. In Singapore, a quantity of 800g of opium is a capital offence, whereas in neighboring Malaysia it is 1kg.
· Punitive, prohibitionist policies continue to drive domestic and international approaches to drug use.
· These punitive policies – including capital punishment – are typically rooted in moral rationales that entrench and exacerbate systemic discrimination against people who use drugs. As a result, in high income and low income countries across all regions of the world, people who use illegal drugs are among the most marginalized and stigmatized in.

This reading is summarized/compile by Fredy (IDUSA/INPUD) from;
“The death Penalty for Drug Offences – A Violation of Human Right” by Rick Lines (Senior Policy Advisor at IHRA)
Data from Indonesia National Narcotic Board
TTAG Press Release – February 14, 2008
Thailand Dugs Policy Profesor Pasuk Phongpaichit – Universitas Chulalongkorn, Bangkok-Presented at Senlis International Symposium on Global Drug Policy, Lisbon, Portugal, 2003.

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