U.S. President Donald Trump has called for tough measures to combat the drug menace in his country, including the death penalty against drug dealers.
Trump’s stance mirrors in part the hard approach by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte against the drug problem.
In November 2017, Trump and Duterte met in Manila on the sidelines of the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Terrorism, trade, and illegal drugs were the focus of the meeting between Trump and Duterte.
In May last year, Trump called Duterte by phone and commended him against the war on drugs being waged by the Philippine government.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
Last Monday (March 19), Trump laid out his plan against the opioid epidemic.
The plan includes a push for the death penalty for some drug traffickers.
“Toughness is the thing that they most fear,” Trump said.
Trump announced the plan in New Hampshire, a state affected by the opioid problem.
“This isn’t about nice anymore,” Trump said. “This is about winning a very, very tough problem and if we don’t get very tough on these dealers it’s not going to happen folks … I want to win this battle.”
Trump has long spoken approvingly about countries like Singapore that have fewer issues with drugs because of severe penalties.
“Drug traffickers kill so many thousands of our citizens every year,” Trump said. “That’s why my Department of Justice will be seeking so many tougher penalties than we’ve ever had and we’ll be focusing on the penalties that I talked about previously for big pushers, the ones that are killing so many people, and that penalty is going to be the death penalty.”
He added: “Other countries don’t play games. … But the ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty.”
The Justice Department said the federal death penalty is available for limited drug-related offences, including violations of the “drug kingpin” provisions in federal law.
Opioids are a class of drugs including prescription painkillers and heroin.
Some 2.4 million Americans are estimated to be addicted to the drugs. The crisis claimed an estimated 63,600 lives nationwide in 2016, say health officials.