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Taiwan Broadens Application of Death Penalty Following Record Heroin Seizure


June 1993

The government of Taiwan, alarmed by an increase in heroin addiction and a recent record haul of Chinese heroin, is broadening use of the death penalty against drug traffickers in the belief it will serve as a smuggling deterrent (Julian Baum, "Cross-Straits Trafficking: China Implicated In Record Heroin Seizure," Far Eastern Economic Review, 5/27/93, p. 19).

Following seizure of 336 kilograms of heroin originating in China's Yunnan province, Taiwanese Premier Lien Chan made a high profile declaration of war on drugs. According to a May 27 report in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Taiwanese government is "rushing to set up a cabinet-level supervisory board on drug enforcement, and the courts are taking a closer look at the death penalty which has been rarely used against drug traffickers in Taiwan."

Some newspapers are editorializing for a wider use of the death penalty, which was applied to a smuggler caught bringing 38 kilograms of heroin from China last year. After the recent 336 kilogram seizure, a Taiwanese appeals court revised another man's sentence from life imprisonment to death. Announcing the new war on drugs, Lien recalled China's 19th century opium wars, commenting "we do not want to leave any room for drugs and drug users in Taiwan."