Lack of data hampers anti-drug war


This article first appeared on FMT. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: A criminologist has urged the government to commission a deep study into the effectiveness of law enforcement against drug-related crimes, including the deterrent value of the death sentence for trafficking.

P Sundramoorthy, an associate professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, told FMT that Malaysian authorities were labouring under a lack of scientific data in their fight against drug abuse and trafficking.

His call was prompted by a recent United Nations statement about the ineffectiveness of harsh sentences imposed for drug-related offences. Andrew Gilmour, the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, noted that Southeast Asia accounted for half of the 32 countries and territories in the world where drug crimes could result in the death penalty.

Sudramoorthy pointed out that there was a large number of convicted drug traffickers on death row in Malaysia and said this indicated that capital punishment was not a deterrent.

“In addition, law enforcement agencies continue to successfully detect and arrest significant numbers of drug traffickers on a regular basis, obviously illustrating that many are involved in this illegal trade,” he said.

“So we can make the assumption that the death penalty does not discourage potential offenders from committing this crime.”

He called for “proactive, innovative and humanitarian solutions” to drug-related issues.

He said long prison sentences and whipping might serve as better deterrents than capital punishment and he urged the authorities to also consider punishing traffickers under laws against money laundering.

“We need to prioritise our strategies by rehabilitating and treating users and severely punishing only those involved in the sale of illegal drugs,” he said.

“Furthermore, we should continue to enhance the role of law enforcement by providing additional funding for specialised training and sophisticated high-tech equipment.”

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