Malaysia Set to Execute More People for Drug Offenses

Last month, six people were sentenced to death for drug trafficking by a Malaysian court. Two are Malaysian and the rest are Indian nationals (India is another country that maintains the death penalty for drug offenses). While Malaysia has taken steps to make the death penalty for certain drug offenses non-mandatory, slow implementation of the law and the retention of the death penalty means that many more will executed in the name of the war on drugs.


The six people are among hundreds facing capital punishment for drug law violations in Malaysia. And among hundreds more in the region. Less than two months ago, China executed seven people for drug offenses in front of thousands of onlookers. And just a few years ago, Indonesia executed eight people for drug offenses, despite repeated pleas for mercy from family members, citizens, human rights organizations, the United Nations and governments from around the world.

Even here in the U.S., where the death penalty isn’t applied for drug offenses, the current opioid overdose crisis has led to more criminalization of people who sell drugs. The governor of Florida recently signed a bill that would expand the definition of first-degree murder—a crime for which the death penalty can be applied in the state—to include selling a lethal dose of the opioid fentanyl.

The United Nations opposes the use of the death penalty for drug law violations, and has repeatedly upheld that using the death penalty to enforce drug laws violates international law. International law limits the application of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes” which does not include drug use, sales, or trafficking.  

Despite this, 33 countries still use this ineffective and draconian measure to deal with drug offenses. In some countries, there have been signs of reform. Iran, which has sentenced thousands to death for drugs, recently amended its penal code, indicating that even countries that have long relied on capital punishment for drug offenses are realizing how ineffective it is.

While the death penalty represents an extreme example of the perverse ways in which governments punish people suspected of involvement with illegal drugs, many more countries around the world of are also guilty of heinous crimes in this misguided global drug war.

This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.