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China's Top Court Steps Up Harsher Punishment for Drug-Related Crimes
   2016-04-08 08:43:25    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xie Cheng

China's Supreme People's Court holds a press briefing releasing a new judicial interpretation on rules for drug-related convictions and sentencing on April 7, 2016. [Photo: cnr.cn]

China's top court has released a new judicial interpretation on rules for drug-related convictions and sentencing, in a bid to step up punishments towards such crimes.

CRI's Xie Cheng reports.

 

The document, issued by the Supreme People's Court, stipulated the standards for convictions and sentencing for 10 different kinds of drug-related crimes.

12 new types of illegal drugs have been added to be list to be subject to criminal penalties including methcathinone and tramadol, and the threshold for conviction of illegal use for 33 precursor chemicals have all been lowered.

It also adopted stricter rules for ketamine, the abuse of which has become an increasing problem in China.

Figures have shown not only a rise in the number of ketamine users, but an increase also in the production and sale of the drug in recent years.

The drug also ranks third, after methamphetamine and heroin, in terms of involvement in drug-related violations such as drug-driving, violence or self-mutilation.

In this way, the threshold for the drug's criminalization was lowered by half, meaning anyone who smuggles, traffics, sells or produces just half a kilogram of ketamine could be sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Previously the amount was set at one kilogram.

The document also set out harsher punishments for drug crimes committed by state officials, covering a variety of offences including drug smuggling, selling, trafficking, producing or illegal possession.

Fang Wenjun, a senior judge at China's top court, explained the need for such a move.

"State functionaries should be much stricter with themselves and always stay self-disciplined, and abide by the law as a basic requirements. Any drug-related crimes by a state official will only lead to more abominable influence. Thus, once a state functionary committed such a crime, he or she must be punished in a much more strict way."

The interpretation also covers online offences, and stricter punishments will also be implemented on drug lords, professional drug dealers and re-offenders.

Ma Yan, another SPC justice, said the interpretation also stressed protection towards teenagers.

"Heavier punishments will be implemented on offences such as abetting youngsters to commit drug-related crimes, as well as illegally providing narcotics to students on campus. The threshold for criminalization or sentencing for the offence of inciting minors to produce drugs could be lowered. Any acts of providing a shelter or venue for a minor to use drugs will also be punished."

Ma also called for more participation in anti-drugs campaigns and the elimination of the underlying causes of drug abuse.

Figures from the Supreme People's Court shows that the trials of over 139 thousand drug cases have been concluded last year, an increase of over 30 percent.

The new rules will take effect from Monday.

For CRI, I'm Xie Cheng.  

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