Selling 20 grams of marijuana to an undercover cop in the United Arab Emirates brought a death sentence for a 21-year-old Briton and a 19-year-old Syrian in the United Arab Emirates today, according to Emirates paper The National.
After the verdict was announced, the Briton’s mother collapsed outside the Criminal Court while the Syrian’s mother tried to comfort her, telling her they could appeal the decision.
The two men were caught after a CID officer posing as a customer bought 20 grams of the drug. The officer had earlier bought Dh500 worth to test it and confirm it actually was marijuana.
According to Amnesty International, the UAE only executed one person in 2011 and handed out over 31 death sentences. They had resumed using the death penalty in 2011; the last previous execution had been in 2008. At least 12 people last year were also given death sentences (though not yet executed) for smuggling drugs, though the report doesn't say if they were for as small an amount as these defendants.
Also,the report notes, "As in other countries in the subregion, the death penalty is often imposed on migrant workers, especially from Africa and Asia, who suffer particular disadvantages in terms of effective legal assistance, being informed of the court proceedings and the final sentence, and the possibility of offering financial compensation (diyah) to victims’ families."
Other countries that have used the death penalty to punish drug-related offenses include China, India, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Last year China led the world in total executions, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the United States.