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China Executes 10 People for Non-Violent Drug Offences

Chinese authorities have executed ten people for non-violent drug offences immediately after a public sentencing hearing.

On 23 June, the group – who had been convicted of drug trafficking offences earlier this year – lost their appeal against their death sentences, and were swiftly killed by the state. According to China Daily, all ten people were convicted of producing, owning, and trafficking large quantities of illegal drugs in the appeal trial. The hearing took place in public in the city of Lufeng – in Guangdong province, a coastal region in the southeast of the country.

The court said that one of the executed men, Fan Shuixian, “earned 1.1 million yuan ($172,000) from selling the ephedrine he extracted, and later mixed 16.4 kilograms of methamphetamine, commonly known as ice, with his ephedrine”.

Ephedrine is a drug with many legal, pharmaceutical purposes, but is also recognised by authorities internationally as a precursor for the production of illegal methamphetamine.

The city of Lufeng has a notorious association with drug trafficking in China, it having once supplied one-third of methamphetamine produced in the country, according to Chinese newspaper the Global Times.

This is not the first time that the execution of people for non-violent drug offences in Lufeng has hit headlines. In December 2017, ten people were immediately executed – mostly for drug offences – following a public trial in front of thousands of onlookers at a local sports stadium.

While the executions take place behind closed doors, the trials are seemingly purposefully turned into macabre public spectacles to dissuade other people from involvement with the drug trade. An anonymous police officer told China Daily that the executions would deter other people from drug trafficking, and help promote the region’s “anti-drug campaign”.

China continues to be one of the world’s most prolific executioners, however the number of people being killed by the state – for drug offences, and other crimes – is unknown. In a recent report by Harm Reduction International – The Death Penalty for Drug Offences – it was noted that “statistics on death sentences and executions [in China] are considered so sensitive that they remain a State secret, which makes it impossible to know the true figure for the number of executions which take place each year”.

President Xi Jinping has previously vowed that the country’s repressive drug policy approach will continue; there will be "no rest until a sweeping victory", he says.

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