President Donald Trump’s proposal to use capital punishment as a solution to end the opioid epidemic mirrors the Philippines’ use of executions against drug users.
Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, has responded to his country's drug epidemic by murdering thousands through extrajudicial killings.
Ahead of an East Asia trip in October, a senior Trump administration official talked of Trump’s “warm rapport” with Duterte. “I think there’s a warm rapport there. He’s very much looking forward to his first meeting with President Duterte,” he said. At the time of their meeting, Trump reaffirmed this, saying that he has a “great relationship” with Duterte.
Critics, meanwhile, are worried that Trump’s apparent admiration of a leader who’s ordered the extrajudicial killing of drug dealers and drug users essentially condones human rights abuses.
Trump, like Duterte, is not seeking to understand the cause of his country's drug epidemic.
Instead, Trump seeks to punish small-time dealers and opioid users through the use of executions and increased law enforcement while leaving the culprits behind the epidemic, big pharma, legally protected.
On the policing side, the plan would ramp up prosecution and punishment, underscoring the tension in how public health advocates and law enforcement officials approach the crisis.
According to language circulating this week, the Trump administration will call for the death penalty as an option in "certain cases where opioid, including Fentanyl-related, drug dealing and trafficking are directly responsible for death."