Trump to seek death penalty for drug dealers: White House official

In this March 15, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump talks with reporters during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Trump to seek death penalty for drug dealers: White House official

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will present on Monday his plan to combat an opioid abuse epidemic which will include seeking the death penalty for drug traffickers.
The Department of Justice “will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers, where appropriate under current law,” a White House official indicated Sunday whilst outlining the plan’s main points.
The official did not offer greater detail on how the death penalty could be invoked against drug dealers without amending statutes.
Trump is due to unveil his plan in a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, a state hard hit by the crisis.
An estimated 2.4 million Americans are addicted to opiates, the narcotics that include prescription painkillers, as well as heroin.
Nationwide, emergency room visits for overdoses from drugs like heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers up 30 percent from 2016 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this month.
The report found that from July 2016 to September 2017, a total of 142,557 emergency room visits were due to suspected opioid overdoses.
Trump has previously mooted the “ultimate” punishment for drug dealers, and is said to have spoken in glowing terms about the policies of deeply controversial Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte, who has ordered extra-judicial killings of traffickers.
“If you shoot one person, they give you life, they give you the death penalty. These people [who sell drugs] can kill 2,000, 3,000 people and nothing happens to them,” he said.
Many opposition Democrats oppose the idea of executing drug dealers, and changing the law would require an act of Congress.
“We will not incarcerate or execute our way out of the opioid epidemic,” said Democratic senator Ed Markey last week.
“Extreme proposals like using the death penalty only perpetuate a harmful stigma associated with opioid use disorders and divert attention from meaningful conversations and progress on expanding access to treatment, recovery, and other public health initiatives,” he said.


UK court rejects case brought by mother of Daesh 'Beatle' held in Syria

Updated 18 January 2019
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UK court rejects case brought by mother of Daesh 'Beatle' held in Syria

  • El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are being held by Kurdish militia after being captured in Syria last year
  • United States wants to extradite them and Britain has said it will not stand in the way

LONDON: The mother of one of the British Daesh militants suspected of murdering western hostages, lost a legal challenge on Friday that it was wrong for Britain to assist a US investigation which could lead to them facing the death penalty.
Britons El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey — two of a notorious group of British fighters nicknamed “The Beatles” — are being held by Kurdish militia after being captured in Syria last year.
The United States wants to extradite them and Britain has said it will not stand in the way of any future US prosecution that would seek the death penalty, waiving a long-standing objection to executions.
Elsheikh’s mother, Maha El Gizouli, had sought a judicial review, saying it was unlawful for Britain’s interior minister to provide mutual legal assistance in a case which could lead to prosecutions for offenses which carried the death penalty.
Her lawyers said the minister’s actions were flawed, inconsistent with Britain’s unequivocal opposition to the death penalty and violated her son’s human rights. However, London’s High Court disagreed and dismissed her claim.
“My priority has always been to ensure we deliver justice for the victims’ families and that the individuals suspected of these sickening crimes face prosecution as quickly as possible,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid said.
“Our long-standing opposition to the death penalty has not changed. Any evidence shared with the US in this case must be for the express purpose of progressing a federal prosecution.”
The most notorious of the four of the so-called Beatles was Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” who is believed to have been killed in a US-British missile strike in 2015.
He became a public face of Daesh and appeared in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages.
“This group of terrorists is associated with some of the most barbaric crimes committed during the conflict in Syria,” Graeme Biggar, Director of National Security at Britain’s interior ministry, said in a written statement to the court.
Britain has said it does not want the men repatriated to the United Kingdom and their British citizenship has been withdrawn.
British prosecutors concluded they did not have the evidence to launch their own case against the men but US officials then expressed frustration with the British stance of seeking an assurance that US prosecutors would not call for the death penalty, court documents showed.
However, last June, British ministers and senior officials decided the best way of ensuring a prosecution and to protect US relations was to seek no such assurance in this case.
That decision provoked criticism from opposition lawmakers and from some in the government’s own party who accused ministers of secretly abandoning Britain’s opposition to the death penalty.