Bangladesh to Begin Hanging People for Non-Violent Drug Offences
People in Bangladesh now face execution for a range of non-violent drug offences.
The Narcotics Control Act 2018, which came into effect on 27 December, mandates either the death penalty or life imprisonment for anyone convicted of committing a range of drug offences. Such crimes include trading or producing over 25 grams of heroin or cocaine, and trading or producing over 200 grams of methamphetamine (colloquially known as “yaba”), Dhaka Tribune reports. Trading or producing less than 200 grams of methamphetamine, or less than 25 grams of cocaine or heroin, will now be punished by between two and 10 years imprisonment.
Under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, “when any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead”.
According to Harm Reduction International, the last known death sentence for a drug offence in Bangladesh was in 2009. That now looks set to change.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan claims that such strict punishments are necessary to dissuade people from drug use; “This youth society loses their ability to work, service attitude, and creativity, due to drug addiction and they become a burden for the nation in the process”. He added that the implementation of the new law meant that “We’ll surely succeed in controlling drugs”.
The movement towards implementing capital punishment for drug offences in Bangladesh began in 2017, following an apparent rise in methamphetamine use, and increasingly heated political discussions on the subject. As TalkingDrugs reported, the country’s Department of Narcotic Control warned that the country “[needed] to do something drastic without any delay to come out from this evil situation. Otherwise, the whole nation may immediately start suffering so much [that it] will go beyond recovery and repair”.
In the interim period, between officials voicing their desire for the death penalty and the law coming into effect, authorities seemingly began their own illegal and deadly drug war – bearing similarities to the ongoing slaughter under President Duterte in the Philippines. Hundreds of people have been killed by law enforcement in 2018 for alleged involvement with the drug trade. Authorities have claimed that all those killed were shot to death in exchanges of gunfire, but human rights groups and some witnesses claim people are being executed – some for political reasons or personal vendettas entirely unrelated to drugs.
Khan has warned that “this war will continue until we bring [drugs] under complete control”. He denounced those killed as “not good people”, and said there was “no question” that they all sold illegal drugs.
The lack of evidence and oversight in these killings suggests that the state may continue to execute people under the new drug law without sufficient proof of guilt.
Executing people for drug offences is a violation of international law. Article 6.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights reads: “In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”. In 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recognised that “’the most serious crimes’ … has been interpreted to mean only crimes involving intentional killing”.
Revised narcotics control law gets tough with drug traders
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said drug traders used to get released from jail taking advantage of loopholes in the previous law. The amended law contains no such loopholes
The newly amended law in the Narcotics Control Act 2018 imposes the death penalty or life term imprisonment on drug traders, restricting their release from punishment for such crimes.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said drug traders used to get released from jail taking advantage of loopholes in the previous law. The amended law contains no such loopholes.
He said this at a workshop on the review of different aspects for enforcing the amended Narcotics Control Act 2018, at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) in Segunbagicha of Dhaka on Thursday, reports UNB.
“We’ve already achieved enough success in preventing militancy and terrorism. We’ll surely succeed in controlling drugs, Inshallah,” the home minister said.
On October 27, the Narcotics Control Bill was passed in Parliament with a provision of either death sentence or life-term imprisonment as punishment for producing, trading, and using 200 grams or more of yaba, or more than 25 grams of heroin and cocaine.
According to the new law, the punishment for transporting, trading, storing, producing, processing, applying, and using 200 grams of yaba, or its principal ingredient amphetamine, is death penalty or life-term imprisonment.
Yaba and amphetamines were included in the list of Category A narcotics in the new law, even though they are not there in the existing Narcotics Control Act of 1990.
The new law will come into effect on December 27.
The home minister said they formulated the new law bringing necessary amendments to the Narcotics Control Act 1990. All departments concerned, including law enforcement agencies and the DNC, can work jointly from December 27 as per the new law.
Describing young people as the country’s assets, he said drugs stand in the way of millions of young educated youths to change the country. “This youth society loses their ability to work, service attitude, and creativity, due to drug addiction and they become a burden for the nation in the process.”
Asaduzzaman said drugs like yaba are poisoning society and families, affecting people from all classes. “The use of yaba has seen a rise at all levels — from poor day-labourers, students of schools, colleges and universities, to the rich.”
He said godfathers of yaba peddling will be punished under the Money Laundering Act while the DNC can take action under the new law, in case any new drug emerges.
Security Services Division Secretary under the Home Ministry, Farid Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury, and DNC Director General, Md Jamal Uddin Ahmed, also addressed the program. – Dhaka Tribune, 21/12/2018