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Europe: Moscow Mayor Calls for Harsh Drug Laws Including Death Penalty

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov called Monday for drug dealers to be "destroyed" during a speech to law enforcement and city offficials at the Moscow headquarters of the Federal Drug Control Service, according to an account in the Moscow Times. Luzkhov suggested Russia implement drug laws like those in Singapore, where drug traffickers face execution.
"In Singapore, there is no drug addiction," he said. "Let us do the same." Luzkhov somewhat wistfully noted that "these days, a democratic government does not accept" a draconian drug policy like Singapore's, but added that Russia should "accept something close to it."

But Russia has gone in the other direction in recent years. Since 2004, when a new law decriminalized simple drug possession, official drug policy has been to go after traffickers and sellers, but not users. Apparently, the increased penalties for drug dealers and traffickers under the 2004 law is not enough for Luzkhov, and the decriminalization of drug possession sticks in the craw of Russian narcs. The Federal Drug Control Service has fought bitterly to reinstate penalties against small-time possessors, first attempting to subvert the new law's intent by defining personal use quantities at ridiculously low levels, such as 0.01 grams of heroin. Instead, the personal use quantity was set at one gram, but in a small victory for the drug warriors, that was cut back to half a gram last year.

Drug use has been on the rise in Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union since its dissolution. The country registers several hundred thousand "drug addicts" each year, with the real number being likely much greater. An estimated 70,000 Russians die from drug overdoses each year, and injection drug use is involved in many of the country's hundreds of thousands of AIDS cases.

While officials like Mayor Luzkhov see only greater repression as the answer, non-governmental organizations like New Drug Policy seek to balance the hardliners by lobbying for reasonable harm reduction policies. "Using a drug is not a criminal offense," said the group's Lev Levinson in response to the mayor's remarks. "It is punishable only by a fine. The mayor, Levinson said, had cast an envious glance on Singapore's harsh policy for at least a decade.

Indonesian drug czar supports death penalty for drug traffickers

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Germany)

Kuwaiti royal sentenced to die; Trafficked drugs

Kuwait City
Arab Times (Kuwait)

New charges for alleged Mexican drug cartel boss

San Diego, CA
United States
Los Angeles Times

Cory Maye to be Re-sentenced!

Huge news from Radley Balko. Cory Maye’s attorney Rhonda Cooper was found incompetent during the sentencing phase, which means Maye’s death sentence is vacated, at least for now.

For anyone unfamiliar with the case, Cory Maye was sentenced to death in Mississippi after fatally shooting a police officer who he mistook for a burglar. Maye lived alone with his infant daughter and had no criminal record. The raid appears to have been a mistake, but Maye’s apparent attempt to defend his home and daughter led to a murder conviction and a now-vacated death sentence.

Balko’s article in Reason Magazine provides an in-depth look at the case, which I’d argue is one of the most compelling stories of injustice yet to emerge from our disastrous war on drugs.

Read the article
, then check out Balko’s blog The Agitator for on-going coverage of Maye’s appeal. There's a lot happening with the case over the next couple weeks , so this is a great time to get caught up.


United States

On the Thai Coup Attempt

The mass media today are full of reports about the slow-motion military coup attempt taking place in Thailand. While I'm not a big fan of military coups, I have to point out that this one couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Long-time Chronicle readers may recall Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as the man who unleashed a "war on drugs" in 2003 where some 2,000 people summarily executed. That's human rights speak for gunned down in the streets without a trial or even an arrest. Here's a link to just one of the stories we did on Shinawatra's massacre of drug users and sellers. There is much more if you want to dig through our archives. I don't claim to be up to speed on the intricacies of Thai politics. But Shinawatra, a Berlusconi-style figure in Thai politics, a fabulously wealthy media magnate who sought to impose his twisted morality on the country he governed, needs to be sitting in the defendant's dock, not the presidential palace.

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