Friday, February 19, 2010
Death penalty more dangerous than drugs
From March 8 to 12, 2010 during the yearly meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, governments from all over the world will once again declare their support to the global fight against drugs, i.e. the substances that were prohibited worldwide by a UN Convention in 1961.
In Malaysia, as in 21 other countries in the world, people who use or possess relatively small quantities of drugs, including cannabis, are sentenced to death. These sentences are mandatory: judges have no possibility to invoke any extenuating circumstance. Furthermore, the usual burden of proof is reversed so that an individual is presumed to be guilty unless he or she can prove otherwise.
International Conventions on Human Rights, various UN Human Rights Bodies and the UN Secretary General have expressed that the “death penalty should only be considered in cases where the crime is intentional and results in lethal or extremely grave consequences, not in cases of economic, non-violent or victimless offences. In those cases a death sentence may be considered as an arbitrary execution.”
The use, sale or trafficking of drugs is not intended to have a lethal outcome. People use drugs to feel good or to feel better, and as long as there is a demand there will always be a supply. Also in Malaysia, drug use has continued to rise in spite of the death penalty. The people who are occasionally caught by authorities do not have major responsibilities in this business. Killing them will not scare the drug gangs away. On the contrary: thanks to these punishments, the leaders in the drug business can continue to justify extraordinary high prices for their goods
Legitimized by the United Nations, drug prohibition continues to drive repressive policies and legislation including death sentence. These policies are typically rooted in moral in stead of rational arguments, and impede the development of progressive and effective responses to any problems that the use of drugs may cause.
-- From the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD)