Pubdate: Wed, 20 Apr 2016
Source: Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette (Fayetteville, AR)
Copyright: 2016 The Associated Press


UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The first U.N. special session to address 
global drug policy in nearly 20 years bristled with tension Tuesday 
over the use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses.

The outcome document adopted by member states included no criticism 
of the death penalty, saying only that countries should ensure that 
punishments are "proportionate" with the crimes.

"Disproportional penalties ... create vicious cycles of 
marginalization and further crime," Mexican President Enrique Pena 
Nieto told the gathering. He also called for the decriminalization of 
marijuana for medical and scientific purposes and said the 
international community's response to drug issues is "frankly, insufficient."

He said Mexico in the coming days would announce specific drug 
policies with an emphasis on health and human rights.

At least 685 people around the world were executed on drug-related 
offenses in 2015, said Chiara Sangiorgio, a death penalty expert with 
Amnesty International. The rights group says 30 countries have laws 
that punish drug-related offenses with the death penalty.

Indonesia - which last year executed 14 people, mostly foreigners, 
convicted of drug-related crimes despite an international outcry - 
defended its stance Tuesday, saying the death penalty is not 
prohibited under international law.

China, which along with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran 
carries out executions for drug offenses, signaled little flexibility 
on its approach.

"Any form of legalization of narcotics should be resolutely opposed," 
Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun told the gathering.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom