China's New Anti Drug Law: China to ban physical punishment, verbal humiliation...

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    China's first bill on drug control will forbid drug-rehab centers from physically punishing or verbally humiliating drug addicts.
    The draft anti-drug law, which is under review at a top legislature session, requires drug-rehab centers to take protective measures when drug addicts try to hurt themselves.
    The centers should pay drug addicts for work they do, demands the bill.
    The draft law, the first specifically designed to crack down on drug trafficking, advocates non-discriminatory environments for people undergoing rehabilitation with regard to access to education, employment and social security support.
    "Drug takers are law violators, but they are also patients and victims. Punishment is needed, but education and assistance are more important," Zhang Xinfeng, Vice Minister of Public Security, said in a briefing to lawmakers of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
    Adopting a more humanitarian approach to drug takers, the law will allow many of them to recover in their communities, rather than being confined to drug-rehab centers as is the case now.
    The bill stipulates that drug-rehab centers would only admit frequent intravenous drug takers, people who refuse community assistance or fail in community corrections, and those who live in communities without correction resources.
    Rehabilitation centers will be organized to serve people of different ages, gender and addictive conditions, with abuse and humiliation strictly banned.
    The bill orders governments above county level to open drug-rehab centers as needed so drug addicts can volunteer to undergo rehabilitation there.
    The number of drug takers grew 35 percent in the five years since 2000 to hit 1.16 million in early 2005, according to police data. Police estimate that China has more than 700,000 heroin addicts, 69 percent of whom are under the age of 35.
    Opium, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine hydrochloride -- commonly known as "ice" -- morphine, and cocaine are listed as banned drugs.
    In addition to building a more lenient environment for drug addicts, the draft law is also designed to intensify the anti-drug efforts.
    Police will be authorized to force people suspected of taking drugs to take biological body sample tests and proven drug addicts would be registered and forced to undertake rehabilitation.
    Those who report their drug addiction to police would be exempted from punishment.
    Drug addicts will be required to sign agreements with relatives, employers or schools they study at, or with village or urban residents' committees, who will then educate and assist the drug addicts for at least a year in an effort to help them shake off drug addiction.
    The bill also sets strict rules on the clinical use of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals and medicines that could be used to make illegal narcotics, such as methadone and ephedrine.
    Medical institutions that provide drug addicts with inappropriate prescriptions for narcotics and psychochemical substances could face fines of up to 100,000 yuan (12,500 U.S. dollars).
    The bill allows medical institutions to verify whether drug addicts coming for medical assistance have illegal drugs in their luggage and to take measures to protect them during rehabilitation.
    Medical treatment to help drug addicts shake off their addiction should last for at least one month.
    Regular checks will be required during the production, sale and use of sensitive clinical medicines. The bill stipulates that farms that grow medicines and warehouses that store them will be under state guard.
    According to the bill, owners and managers of discos, bars, and night clubs will be ordered to post anti-drug signs in prominent places on their premises and to report drug takers to the police.
    It will also authorize police to search people and their luggage for illegal drugs at key public places such as train stations, long-distance bus stations and border crossings.
    "It is important to introduce such a law as China is now facing a grave situation in drug control," said Zhang Xinfeng.
    In Beijing alone, police had confiscated more than 180 kilograms of methamphetamine and ecstasy pills by May this year.
    Chen Qiang, head of the anti-drug unit of the Beijing public security bureau, said that entertainment venues where drug trafficking and taking are reported will be targeted in a special crackdown to be launched soon.
    China was experiencing an increase in drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle, an area located in countries along the Mekong River delta including Myanmar and Laos, and the Golden Crescent area in western Asia.
    Five of China's six provincial areas troubled most by drug-related problems were in western China and were adjacent to the two notorious narcotics producing regions.
    Almost all of the heroin traded illegally across the world came from the two regions, Zhang said, adding that drugs from the Golden Triangle are "pouring" into China, posing a great threat to the country's drug control efforts.
    "It's impossible to fight the drug problems without international cooperation," Zhang said, noting the bill stipulated that Chinese police should share information with other countries and international organizations and enhance collaboration in investigations.
    Chinese financial institutions will be required to report to police in time flow of capital suspected of being used for drug trafficking, while the People's Bank of China, or central bank, is ordered to strengthen monitoring over suspected drug trafficking capital and guide and deploy anti-money laundering work of financial institutions.
    All the financial institutions are ordered to cooperate with police in investigation, it said.
    To facilitate transparent information flow, the bill obliges the government to establish a press release system to make regular reports on the drug trafficking situation and progress in drug control.
    Owners or managers of public places like airports, train stations, long-distance bus stations, ports and hotels, and entertainment venues such as bars and nightclubs, will be responsible for anti-drug education on their premises and for taking preventive measures against drug trafficking.
    They must report any drug-related crimes they detect to local police. Owners of bars and nightclubs are required to post anti-drug notices on their premises.
    Heads of businesses that fail to comply with the law will be subject to fines of between 500 and 5,000 yuan (62.5 to 625 U.S. dollars).
    Local governments and anti-drug committees, village and urban residents' committees, parents or supervisors of children under 18 should also play a role in the anti-drug education campaign, said the bill.

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