The Bangladeshi state plans to introduce the death penalty for selling methamphetamine. Currently, Bangladeshi law only imposes the death penalty for heroin trafficking, which is rare. The Bangladeshi state has not executed somebody for drug offenses since 2009.
Methamphetamine trafficking has become common in Bangladesh due to civil unrest in neighbouring Myanmar.
The Bangladeshi state’s response to the risk in methamphetamine trafficking is a complete overhaul of their current drug laws. Drug offenses are currently prosecuted under the Narcotics Control Act 1990. If the current proposals are given the green light, this Act will be replaced by the Narcotics Control Act 2018.
The proposals state that anyone found in possession of over 200 grams of methamphetamine could be sentenced to death. Currently, those found with such quantities of methamphetamine can be imprisoned for a maximum of 15 years.
In April 2018, Jamaluddin Ahmed of the Department of Narcotic Control (DNC) said “we’ll raise the punishment for yaba trafficking. In the new law, the maximum punishment will be [the] death sentence”.
Jamaluddin Ahmed feels the death penalty is an appropriate response to a huge increase in the volume of methamphetamine imported from Myanmar.
It’s believed that public opinion is roughly in support of these proposals. Many communities are in a state of panic about the growth in methamphetamine addiction amongst their citizens. These proposals are thus a drastic and a potentially ill thought out response to the situation.
As ever, those in power believe society’s drug problem can be tackled via a ‘war on drugs’, even though such a policy has failed time and time again in hundreds of countries over the last forty years.
The Bangladeshi Government proposes to reclassify methamphetamine as a type A drug so that trafficking of this drug may be punishable by the death penalty. Methamphetamine is currently a type B drug in Bangladesh.
However, these proposals are not without opposition. Police corruption is a particular problem within Bangladeshi society, and corrupt police are known to plant narcotics such as methamphetamine in suspects’ pockets in return for cash. This could lead to executions based on false convictions.
It’s also worth noting that executing people on drug offenses is against international law as set out in Article 6.2 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
Draft legislation approving the death penalty for methamphetamine trafficking is set to become law by the end of 2018.