Beijing Offers Drug Addicts ‘Amnesty’

BEIJING, June 19, (The Independent) — China’s capital city is ordering drug addicts to register with police in an apparent month-long amnesty that allows them to avoid harsh treatment programmes, the official Beijing Morning Post reported on Monday.

Addicts who register within one month must swear not to use drugs again and enter treatment programmes that allow them to quit gradually, said the newspaper.

Addicts who don’t come forward and are later caught using drugs will be forced to withdraw cold turkey during compulsory 3-6 month stays in treatment centres, said the newspaper. It added that serious addicts who did not register with police would be “severely punished” in labour camps.

The order was issued on June 6, the report said. Police did not immediately return requests for comment.

Beijing has an estimated 10,000 drug addicts, with large numbers from elsewhere in China also living in the city, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified police sources.

The order mainly targeted users who injected drugs such as heroin, but the article said police were also demanding compliance from users of Ecstasy, an amphetamine known in Chinese as the “head-rocking pill”.

China’s chief anti-drug official reported in March that China had 681,000 drug addicts last year, a 14 percent increase compared with the previous year.

Using harsh measures, China’s communist government wiped out rampant opium addiction in its first decades in power. But drug abuse returned over the past 20 years as free-market reforms brought increased trade and travel.

China executes drug traffickers and dealers, locks up addicts in prison-like treatment centres and sends habitual drug abusers to prison camps.

Barry McCaffrey, the United States’ senior anti-drug policy-maker arrived on Saturday in China to forge strategies for combating drug trafficking and setting up effective treatment programmes.

 Source: The Independent (Capetown)

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