BEIJING — China says drug cases shot up 16 percent last year from 2008 with courts convicting more than 56,000 people.
Chinese courts handled more than 50,000 drug trafficking cases in 2009 and about 17,000 people received severe sentences — from five years in prison to a death sentence — up almost 9 percent from the year before, the Supreme People's Court said Thursday.
Police seized nearly 28 tons of drugs last year, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.
Saturday is the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and China kicked up its state-run propaganda machine to show it is tackling drug abuse, a growing problem in the country.
A live China Central Television broadcast Friday showed more than two tons of drug packets neatly laid out in rows in the southern city of Dongguan. More drugs were being burned in a line of cauldrons nearby.
Drugs seized in China last year showed a shift toward newer types of narcotics. Court officials told a news conference Thursday that new kinds of drugs, including methamphetamine and ketamine, made up almost 40 percent of the drugs seized last year, an increase of about 7 percent from the year before.
The bulk of the rest, including heroin and opium, came from neighboring border regions of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, the officials said.
China had 1.34 million registered drug addicts as of the end of last year, Xinhua reported.
A law in 2008 ended the practice of sending drug users to labor camps, ordering them instead to be sent for community rehabilitation or to specialized drug rehabilitation centers.
But Human Rights Watch this year said the law has been poorly implemented, leading to continuing — sometimes lethal — abuse.
25 june 2010