Wednesday, December 21, 2005

another Australian faces death in Vietnam while heroin trafficking and the HIV carnage goes unchecked

BBC News reports "an Australian man of Vietnamese origin has been sentenced to death for drug trafficking, according to an official in the Vietnamese province of Tay Ninh."

While Singapore tops the 'hanging league' countries, Vietnam is a major offender when it comes to handing out death penalties for drug trafficking.

I contend that the increasing criminalisation of the illicit drugs trade has been a disaster, amongst other things contributing to the rapid spread of HIV throughout the Asian region. Until the international community comes to its collective sense and develops strategies to address illicit drug production as an outcome of socio-economic disadvantage and heroin abuse as an health management issue, the spread of HIV will continue to rise at an alarming rate, and the criminal gangs behind the trade will continue to flourish.

Burma produces approximately 60% of the world's heroin, with Laos the third leading producer. Recent outbreaks of injecting drug use and HIV-1 in Burma, India, China, and Vietnam have been associated with Burmese and Laotian overland heroin trafficking routes. Tracking HIV outbreak rates has revealed a major heroin route to be from Burma and Laos, through northern Vietnam, to China's Guangxi Province. Experts in this field conclude that "single country narcotics and HIV programs are unlikely to succeed unless the regional narcotic-based economy is addressed."

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