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Campaign seeks to end death penalty for cannabis

Alun Buffry

West Coast Leaf

Monday 18 Jan 2010

Even in the 21st Century, people around the world are being sentenced to death for trafficking in cannabis.

Malaysia is preparing to hang arrestees allegedly caught with as little as half a kilogram of cannabis — just over a pound. Khairul Idzham was sentenced to death Aug. 27 for trafficking 4.3 kilos of cannabis five years ago. Lim Kok Yong was sentenced Sept. 2 to be hanged after he was found guilty of trafficking 625.7 grams five years ago. Khalil Anuar Sukirman was sentenced to death for trafficking over a kilo three years ago. Indonesian Nasir Ibrahim, 31, was given the death sentence Sept. 30, after he was found guilty of trafficking 868 gm of cannabis more than five years ago.

Groups such as Amnesty International, the world-wide cannabis legalization movement's Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) and European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) are taking action on these atrocities, writing to the heads of government in Malaysia to ask that the death sentences be reversed.

Although several other countries execute people for cannabis, China is one of the worst. It celebrates June 26, the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, by executing convicted traffickers.

The Government of China does not make records public, but Amnesty International estimates that around 500 people are executed there each year for drug offenses. Those executed have typically been convicted of smuggling or trafficking in drugs, including cannabis.

"The 1988 convention does provide a legal framework for waging war against drug trafficking. As far as I am aware the convention does not provide for the application of the death penalty," UN deputy spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told a New York press conference.

A spokesperson for the UK-based Legalise Cannabis Alliance said, "The vast majority of cannabis users benefit from the plant and there remains no justification for capital punishment for anyone that has done no harm to others."
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