Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Breaking the law

Lot of screaming in the media about Akmal Shaikh who was executed in China today for drug smuggling. I have a great deal of sympathy for his friends and family who have put up a major campaign to try and have his sentence commuted.
However I have little or no sympathy for Akmal Shaikh who smuggled drugs into a country where they have the death sentence for smuggling drugs. I also discount the mental illness aspect too, the man had bipolar disorder and whilst this is a mental illness it's not a debilitating one with regard to intelligence. He may have been in a fantasy world, but would still have known when on the opposing cycle that what he was doing was very wrong.
If you break the laws of a country that you are visiting then you have to face that countries legal system if caught, Shaikh had been found with more than 4kg of heroin, and being caught with 50g of heroin was enough for the death penalty under Chinese law. Now Shaikh might not have known about the death penalty but he certainly would have known that if caught he'd face justice.
Now a lot of people are criticising the Chinese government for their laws, but that's the system they have, it's harsh, but it followed their rules and Shaikh was found bang to rights by them. It's not as if he'd broken some quaint byelaw either, drug smuggling is a worldwide offence and China takes it as seriously as any modern country, that their law still has the death sentence for such offences may be upsetting to certain western sensibilities, but it's still China's law and that has to be respected.

It should also serve as a warning to any other would be drug smugglers to China too.

8 annotations:

JuliaM said...

"I also discount the mental illness aspect too..."

Looking at it from the other side, if you are a drugs kingpin, is Forrest Gump the ideal drug mule to not only get them through customs, but also not grass you up when (inevitably) captured?

I don't think so...

Anonymous said...

QM. I agree. I've noticed in the past that when a Brit commits a crime abroad he or she can pretty quickly become some sort of hero.

I don't care for the death penalty. I find it offensive. Too many mistakes have been made in justice all over the world, including Scotland and England, for us ever to be sure enough to put someone to death. But where that penalty exists, it exists. And it's a fair time to point out that it exists in some of the most modern, rich and "enlightened" so-called Christian states in the world.

Unfortunate for the family but then we do have to think about the vast numbers of families that are wrecked by drugs. (It might be a good idea to gloss over the fact that the Brits and the Chinese have a rather weird history over drugs, including going to war over them.) As far as I could make out, he had no close family.

British Prime Ministers should stop trying to interfere in other countries' justice systems though. I can't help but thinking that Brown's interventions will only have made them more determined not to bow to the West's demands.

Longrider said...

I'm of the opinion that no state has the moral authority or competence to be allowed the right of life and death over its citizens. However, if you smuggle drugs into a country that executes people who smuggle drugs... er...

There is a massive arrogance shown when Britons are caught breaking other countries laws - as if, somehow, they shouldn't apply to "us". Why not? When in Rome and all that.

Anonymous said...

Ironic really that he should die with his veins pumped full of shit.

Anonymous said...

I doubt friends and family would welcome the gleeful sympathy peculiar to this topic and responses to it.

JuliaM and yourself should save an over generous solace for friends and family on the next occasion an innocent man is wrongly executed.

Longrider said...

Innocent? I'm not aware of any suggestion that he didn't carry a case full of heroin. The issue with this case is not guilt, but whether the Chinese should have suspended their normal judicial system with foreigners. They dispute the mental illness defence. That's their prerogative.

Also, I see no glee here - rather an acknowledgement that when in someone else's country, abide by their laws or suffer the consequences.

Phil A said...

"drug smuggling is a worldwide offence" - why? And is this necessarily a good thing?

Quiet_Man said...

I don't have an issue with drugs illegal or otherwise, legalisation in the UK would make them taxable and assure quality control. However the rules as they stand in most countries are that smuggling of drugs often has a long prison term if caught and convicted at best, in China it's death if caught with over 50 grams.
You smuggle, you take your chances.