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December 2005
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Drugs and Death

Nguyen Tuong Van was hung in Singapore a couple of hours ago. But before we spend too much time discussing this individual who was put to death for smuggling drugs, keep in mind that he has a lot of company in certain parts of the world.
From this article in CNN today [thanks to dwrr], the use of execution for drug crimes is startlingly common.
Despite the fact that death penalty figures are kept a closely guarded secret in many countries (so detailed statistics are often hard to track down), it appears that

[…] more than 420 prisoners have been hanged in Singapore since 1991, most of them for drug trafficking, […]

[Vietnam in 2004] sentenced 88 people to death, half for drug offenses […]

Indonesia […] has 54 people under the sentence of death, with 30 of those facing execution convicted of drug-related crimes, Amnesty reports. […]

In Thailand, possessing 20 grams [less than one ounce] or more of a Class A drug (which includes ecstasy, amphetamines) at an exit point such as a sea- or airport is regarded as trafficking, and if found guilty, an offender will be punished with death.

Despite the profligate use of the death penalty for drug cases (Aren’t there worse criminals for them to go after?), drug use and trafficking still seem to flourish in those countries.
And how about Thailand? Less than an ounce? If you’ve got any enemies, it sure would be easy for them to slip less than an ounce in your pocket without your knowledge as you’re heading for the airport.
Well, I think I know some of the countries I’m crossing off my vacation itinerary.

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