Despite the Government’s best efforts, both international and domestic statistics demonstrate that Australia is currently awash with illegal narcotics and that Australians have globally the highest or close to the highest per capita illicit drug usage across several categories including cannabis, opioids, cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy.
This is demonstrated by the Australian Crime Commission’s recent illicit drugs report which stated that Australia, in FY 14, recorded the highest number of illicit drug related arrests (in excess of 112,000), the highest number of drug seizures and the largest amount of drugs seized.
According to the ACC, sophisticated organised criminals are at the centre of the Australian illicit drug market.
Moreover, 42% of Australians, according to the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, have used illicit drugs during their lives demonstrating that Australia has an entrenched illicit drug culture.
Disturbingly, the toxicity of the current supply of illicit substances across several categories has never been stronger.
Long-term cognitive, psychological and physical damage, the deterioration of social capital and the lost labour productivity resulting from illicit drug use is both real and undeniable.
The current ice epidemic sweeping the nation has devastated the lives of many Australians including in several rural, remote and very remote communities.
On any possible objective measure, Australia’s current approach to the war on drugs is an example of gross public policy failure.
Billions are being consumed in drug law enforcement, tens of thousands of traffickers and users are languishing in Australian jails, violent crime is being waged on Australian streets and precious health care resources are being consumed dealing with the consequences of illicit drug use.
Australia’s current policy posture projects weakness to international criminal narcotics syndicates in Asia and South America.
We are seen as a soft target and therefore illegal drugs flood the country.
Despite the issue not dominating the national conservation, it is incumbent on policy makers to investigate alternative policy solutions that best provide pathways to resolving the current crisis.
The collective harm that currently arises from illicit drug use discredits the drug legalisation community’s argument that an individual’s personal use should not be the concern of the Government as it does not cause harm to others.
Developments in neuroscience and psychology demonstrate that, as social animals, an individual’s consumption of illicit drugs can significantly influence on behaviour of others.
The alternative is to consider radically different policy frameworks such as Singapore’s, which has a comprehensive approach to meeting its openly-stated policy objective of having a ‘drug free’ Singapore.
The Singapore model includes a multi-pronged strategy consisting of strong preventative education in schools, mandatory drug rehabilitation for first and second time caught users involving family and community networks as well as the mandatory use of the death penalty with a reverse onus of proof for individuals caught with a prohibitive substance above a legislatively prescribed weight. Singapore’s policy approach is brutal, but it works.
Singapore enjoys one of the lowest per capita rates of illicit drug use in the world, its streets are safe, organised drug crime syndicates do not have a stronghold and, because of its projection of resolute strength, Singapore’s use of the death penalty is sparing.
The effectiveness of Singapore’s policy approach over two decades has resulted in the halving of arrest rates from approximately 6,000 to 3,000 annually as well as the rate of recidivism from 60 percent to 30 percent.
Given the seriousness of Australia’s illicit drug crisis, examination and potential adoption of the Singapore model should be considered by policy makers, including the re‑introduction of the death penalty.
Australians must be willing to acknowledge the seriousness of the current crisis and be accepting of tough unconventional measures coupled with determined and unwavering leadership.
The scale of policy change required is immense.
John Adams is a former Coalition advisor.
Original article here
Dead men walking: Philippine President Duterte to name dozens of officials allegedly involved in drug trade
PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte is set to name up to 50 officials allegedly involved in drugs as state-sanctioned street executions of civilians soar to 600.
Mr Duterte’s lawyer Salvador Panelo said that 27 local executives identified in intelligence reports would be unmasked this week that figure had almost doubled.
“My God, you will be shocked,” Mr Panelo said last night, according to the Philippine Inquirer.
He declined a request to give examples, citing operational reasons, but revealed many on the list were from prominent families and included provincial mayors and police generals and military figures.
The extraordinary development comes a day after Mr Duterte issued a “shoot on sight” order for Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera and his son Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa after three mayoral staffers were caught with ice, known as shabu in the Philippines.
The Radyo Inquirer said that the mayor surrendered on Tuesday after police shot dead six bodyguards during an early morning raid at the heavily fortified family compound.
Authorities have vowed to hunt down and kill his son, who vanished weeks ago after learning Duterte was coming after him.
Kerwin is said to have undergone plastic surgery while on the run in a desperate bid to elude capture.
Father and son are being investigated for allegedly protecting drug traffickers. Espinosa is the first local executive linked to the narcotics trade under the Duterte administration, according to The Philippine Star.
The officials about to be unmasked in the “executive kill list” can consider themselves dead men walking unless they turn themselves in and confess.
‘I’M OKAY WITH YOU KILLING MY SON’
Espinosa, who was not present at the raid on his home, surrendered to authorities on Tuesday before the expiration of a 24-hour ultimatum given by Mr Duterte.
He reportedly met with the president at Malacañang Palace before presenting himself to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa.
Chief Dela Rosa paraded Espinosa at a press conference last night, telling reporters the order to shoot on sight was still active for his son, who is the subject of a massive manhunt.
“Kerwin, you better surrender or die,” he said in a message to the younger Espinosa.
Chief Dela Rosa said Espinosa had admitted to him that Kerwin was involved in drug dealing and was in business with convicted drug trafficker Peter Co — an inmate at the maximum security New Bilibid Prison.
The top cop told reporters that he had twice asked Espinosa “if it would be okay if police killed Kerwin if he tried to resist arresting officers”.
“Okay,” Espinosa replied, GMA Network reported.
BODY COUNT SOARS TO 600
More than 120,000 drug addicts — most of them shabu (ice) dependent — have been forced to “surrender” to police since Duterte took office in May.
Users are required to attend mass ceremonies where they register as drug criminals and pledge to never take drugs again.
Those who don’t register, or break their contract, do so at the risk of being hunted down and killed, either by police or at the hands of vigilantes.
Mr Duterte, whose “death squads” were linked to dozens of unexplained murders during his 20 year reign as mayor of Davao, has given police and civilians the power to kill users and pushers on sight.
“Rehab is no longer an option,” Mr Duterte told a cheering audience in Davao City.
“So those of you in your neighbourhood, feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have a gun. You have my support.”
In another well-received speech, he told the crowd: “In an arrest, you must overcome the resistance of the criminal. You must really overcome it. And if he fights, and he fights to death, you can kill him.
“Then I’ll give you a medal.”
Activist group Human Rights Watch says 600 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed in street executions since May 10.
The murders have occurred in several parts of the country including Manila, Bulacan, Cebu, Rizal, Abra, Bataan, Pangasinan and Cavite.
Mr Duterte has dismissed the images as “melodramatic”.
“International drug control agencies need to make clear to President Roderigo Duterte that the surge in killings of suspected drug dealers and users is not acceptable ‘crime control,’ but instead a government failure to protect people’s most fundamental human rights,” Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine said a statement yesterday.
Originally published as Punisher to issue ‘executive kill list’
Original article here
Rodrigo Duterte: New President’s ‘war on drugs’ reaping lethal results on Manila’s streets
PHOTO: Some police officers have a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality. (ABC News: Ben Bohane)
Freelance correspondent Ben Bohane goes on patrol with police and the media in Manila to document Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
Warning: This story contains graphic images
I had been enjoying the hospitality of Manila’s night-crawling media and police photographers at their base for barely 20 minutes when the first call came through.
Jumping into a convoy of cars at the city’s police headquarters in Ermita, we moved at speed through the tangle of traffic, racing to document the next killing in the Philippines’ “drug war”.
It was 11:00pm and the dozen photographers from local media, such as the Manila Bulletin and Philippine Star, and wire agencies, had already covered one slaying earlier in the evening.
PHOTO: Filipino media at Manila’s police headquarters watching television, playing cards and singing as they wait to be called out to the next crime scene. (ABC News: Ben Bohane)
“Last night there were 12 killings around Manila,” one says. “Most nights recently there are at least 10.”
We head to Marikina City in north-west Manila and find a crime scene being established by police. A body lies in an alley next to a convenience store.
As we wait for permission to go under the yellow tape and photograph, we get the next call — a shoot-out nearby.
“Let’s hop to the next one — it is an ex-cop who has been killed, so it will be more interesting,” freelance photographer Linus Escandor says.
PHOTO: Racing through the streets of Manila to another crime scene, Filipino media and police photographers travel in a convoy of vehicles. The group must move quickly before investigators close off access. (ABC News: Ben Bohane)
Fifteen minutes later, we are at the next scene. There, spread-eagled with gruesome head wounds and a trail of blood, lies the former police officer, dead.
He had been killed in a shoot-out with officers from the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group during a midnight raid, 25 minutes earlier.
The man was identified as Pelito Basan Obligacion, an alleged drugs and guns dealer — and like most cases — had supposedly “fired first, causing police to respond”.
A Colt 45 pistol lay near his limp hand.
PHOTO: Police secure a crime scene where a drug runner was killed in Marikina City, in the north-west of the Philippines capital, Manila. (ABC News: Ben Bohane)
The scene is ablaze with headlights, flashing police lights and TV camera lights, as forensics teams go to work — once the photographers have got their shots.
Yellow tape then cordons off the area, spent bullet casings are circled in chalk and numbered.
“Most of the killings happen in the outer suburbs or central Manila, not so much in Makati [the main business district] because there is a lot of CCTV there,” Linus says.
PHOTO: Police at the scene where an alleged drug runner, who was also a former policeman, was shot dead by police in Quezon City. (ABC News: Ben Bohane)
Addicts race to rehab
The killings began before Mr Duterte had even been sworn into office, as if in anticipation.
Two weeks after his inauguration, 200 drug dealers and users have been killed in shoot-outs in the withering crackdown where police have a licence to “shoot first, ask later”.
About 60,000 addicts have handed themselves in for treatment at clinics around the country in recent weeks, fear now overriding hardcore addiction.
In 2012, the United Nations said the Philippines had the highest rate of methamphetamine use in East Asia.
According to a US State Department report, 2.1 per cent of Filipinos aged 16 to 64 use the drug, known locally as “shabu shabu”.
Chinese triads have been accused of importing it from China and meth labs have reportedly been operating in prisons, implicating jail wardens.
Last week Mr Duterte named and shamed five of the nation’s highest police chiefs as “narco-generals”, who protect criminal syndicates.
More than 120 officers have been sacked in one province alone, the Visayas region, according to the Philippine Enquirer.
Mr Duterte has even enlisted the willing help of the New People’s Army — the communist insurgents —to take out drug dealers in their areas.
The Philippines leader has vowed to risk everything to put an end to the drug problem, which he says is a major security and corruption issue.
A former mayor of Davao, on Mindanao, he is credited with creating one of the safest cities in the country with his tough-on-crime approach, although critics have denounced his vigilante-style methods.
In a recent speech, Mr Duterte summed up his stance: “If you destroy my country, I will kill you. If you destroy our children, I will kill you. If I am asked by anybody, including the Commission on Human Rights, I do not know you”.
Not only legal and human rights organisations, but ordinary Filipinos who voted for him are alarmed by what they see as a war on drugs, that is also a war on poor people.
A taxi driver, Bobby, says he voted for Mr Duterte, but told me:
“We have courts for a reason. You can’t let cops be judge, jury and executioner.”
PHOTO: President Duterte has previously vowed to “kill all drug traffickers”. (Supplied: Linus Escandor)
Summary executions common in drug war
In the early hours back at the station, the police and general media are smoking and strumming guitars when a fourth call-out comes.
This one is a “salvage job” — slang for a summary execution — so named because the victims are often wrapped in plastic and dumped.
PHOTO: A supporter of Philippines’ presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte at a campaign rally, May, 2016.(ABC: Adam Harvey)
The local media refer to these as vigilante killings, often aimed at silencing potential informers. But according to Linus, not all of them deploy the “salvage job” approach.
“They can’t be bothered wrapping them in plastic. They just shoot them and say there was a shoot-out,” he said.
Once again we are speeding through the traffic, heavy for this time of night. This is actually the most dangerous part of the job, as usually the press and police photographers arrive after the killings and there is not much risk.
But the rush to get to a crime scene and document it before police cordon it off and remove the body and the evidence, is the riskiest part, as I soon discover.
Changing lanes in light rain, a taxi brakes hard in front of us and suddenly we are fishtailing and nearly slam into buildings on the sidewalk.
At that point, it is after 3:00am and back at the station I decide to call it a night, leaving the photographers waiting for the next macabre scene, as the bodies in Mr Duterte’s drugs war keep piling up.
PHOTO: Filipino media arrive back at their base at the Manila police headquarters in Ermita, after documenting the latest casualties of President Duterte’s war on drugs. (ABC News: Ben Bohane)
Original ABC News article here
Philippines: Duterte vows to bring back death penalty
16 May 2016
- From the sectionAsia
Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he will seek to return the death penalty, in his first comments to reporters since last week’s election.
He added that he would also seek to give security forces shoot-to-kill powers for suspects who evade arrest and those involved in organised crime.
It is unclear how easily he could enact such proposals, but analysts credit his success to his tough stance on crime.
He is set to be sworn into office on 30 June for a term of six years.
While official election results have not yet been announced, Mr Duterte has an unassailable lead. He will need the backing of Congress to see through his plans.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday in the southern city of Davao, Mr Duterte is also quoted as saying that he wanted to forge closer relations with China, and that he was open to direct talks over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has taken one of its claims to a court of arbitration at the Hague.
Mr Duterte’s record as the crime-crushing mayor of the southern city of Davao, once notorious for its lawlessness, has earned him the moniker The Punisher.
“What I will do is urge Congress to restore death penalty by hanging,” Mr Duterte told reporters. The Philippines abolished capital punishment in 2006.
Duterte: From ‘Punisher’ to president
- Born in 1945 into a political family but with a more modest background than many Philippine politicians
- Married twice but now single, he says he has several girlfriends
- A lawyer, he became vice-mayor of Davao in 1986 and mayor in 1988. He has also previously held a seat in congress
- Built a reputation fighting crime, militancy and corruption. He has promised to continue his tough stance as president, but has offered few specific policies
- Well known for incendiary comments, such as saying he would kill thousands of criminals without trial
“If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police (will be) to shoot to kill. Shoot to kill for organised crime. You heard that? Shoot to kill for every organised crime,” he is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.
Rights groups say hundreds of criminals were killed by so-called “death squads” in Davao during Mr Duterte’s stewardship of the city. In 2015, Human Rights Watch described Mr Duterte as the “death squad mayor” for his strong-arm tactics in Davao.
Whether Mr Duterte is able to persuade Congress to back such policies remains to be seen.
Last week his spokesman put forward a series of proposals such as a ban on alcohol in public places and a “nationwide curfew” for children.
Mr Duterte was not afraid of courting controversy throughout his election campaign. He vowed to give himself and members of the security forces immunity from prosecution after leaving office, saying: “Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte.”
Duterte in quotes
On vowing to kill criminals
“Forget the laws on human rights… You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you. I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.”
On the rape of a female missionary
“I saw her face and I thought, son of a bitch. what a pity… I was mad she was raped but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first.”
On the Pope’s visit holding up traffic
“We were affected by the traffic. It took us five hours… I wanted to call him: ‘Pope, son of a whore, go home. Do not visit us again’.”
On taking Viagra
“I was separated from my wife. I’m not impotent. What am I supposed to do? Let this hang forever? When I take Viagra, it stands up.”
Original article here
Singapore’s policy keeps drugs at bay
By Michael Teo The Guardian Sunday 6 June 2010
Many criticise using the death penalty against those in the drug trade, but our strategy has saved thousands from addiction
Drug abuse blights modern societies.
That is why many governments are focused on tackling addiction, preventing drug-related crimes and ultimately protecting their populations.
Singapore’s tough stand and use of strict laws and stiff penalties against those involved in the drug trade, including capital punishment, have sometimes come under criticism.
The comment by Patrick Gallahue and Rick Lines of the International Harm Reduction Association prompted by the trial of a drug trafficker, Yong Vui Kong, and the imposition of the death penalty on him, is a recent instance.
Singapore pursues a comprehensive national strategy to combat the scourge of drugs, comprising a high-profile public education campaign, treatment and rehabilitation of drug offenders, as well as strict laws and stiff penalties against those involved in the drug trade.
Public education against drug abuse starts in schools.
For abusers, our approach is to try hard to wean them off drugs and deter them from relapsing. They are given two chances in a drug rehabilitation centre.
If they go through counselling, kick their drug habit and return to society with useful skills, they will not have any criminal record.
Those who are still addicted go to prison, where they are put on general rehabilitation programmes to help them reintegrate into the community.
Strong community support against drug abuse has been critical to our fight against drugs.
Singapore society resolutely rejects drug abuse.
Several voluntary welfare organisations run halfway houses to help recovering addicts adjust back into society.
Many employers also come forward to offer reformed drug addicts employment opportunities.
Drug traffickers are a major part of the problem on the supply side.
They make drugs available in our communities and profit from the human misery they help create.
This is why tough laws and penalties are needed, including capital punishment for trafficking in significant amounts of the most harmful drugs.
This sends a strong deterrent signal to would-be traffickers.
But unfortunately, attracted by the lucrative payoffs, some still traffic in drugs knowing full well the penalty if they get caught.
With all these efforts, Singapore has one of the lowest prevalence of drug abuse worldwide, even though it has not been entirely eliminated.
Over two decades, the number of drug abusers arrested each year has declined by two-thirds, from over 6,000 in the early 1990s to about 2,000 last year.
Fewer than two in 10 abusers released from prison or drug rehabilitation centres relapse within two years.
We do not have traffickers pushing drugs openly in the streets, nor do we need to run needle exchange centres.
Because of our strict laws, Singapore does not have to contend with major drug syndicates linked to organised crime, unlike some other countries.
According to the 2008 World Drug Report by the United Nations office on drugs and crime 8.2% of the UK population are cannabis abusers; in Singapore it is 0.005%. For ecstasy, the figures are 1.8% for the UK and 0.003% for Singapore; and for opiates – such as heroin, opium and morphine – 0.9% for the UK and 0.005% for Singapore.
Singapore’s use of capital punishment has come under criticism.
However, contrary to the assertions of anti-death penalty campaigners like Gallahue and Lines, Singapore laws that specify the death penalty for certain drug offences do not contravene international law.
Notably, at the United Nations general assembly in 2008, 46 countries, including some of the world’s largest democracies, voted against a draft resolution proposing a moratorium on the death penalty. Another 34 countries abstained.
In the recent case of Yong Vui Kong, the court of appeal acknowledged that the mandatory death penalty is constitutional, and the high court expressly found that Yong Vui Kong knew he was carrying the drugs.
Every society strikes its own balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of society.
Capital punishment is an integral part of our successful comprehensive anti-drug strategy.
Our tough stance against drugs has saved tens of thousands of lives from the drug menace.
It is therefore not surprising that the majority of Singaporeans continue to support the death penalty. ”
Original article here