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Drugs and the Death Penalty in Asia (LAWS70415)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5Not available in 2018

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Year of offerNot available in 2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70415
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Throughout Asia the treatment of drug offences varies, although many countries retain the death penalty. Students will be asked to critically evaluate drug law, criminal procedure law and penalties in Asian jurisdictions selected from (but not limited to) China, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.

The subject’s approach is explicitly socio-legal. Students will interrogate regional primary sources and then investigate how the laws operate in practice, drawing upon identified practice and current research. There will be a strong emphasis on case studies of important judicial decisions from the countries selected. This subject is also comparative, asking students to incorporate and defend a comparative approach to their analysis.

The first part of the subject will be an introduction to relevant international regimes and the national regulatory and institutional frameworks for drugs law in each of the countries selected. The second part of the subject will comprise a series of studies of significant and/or high-profile case studies from the countries selected, in which the practical application of the regimes examined in the first half are investigated. A comparative approach will be applied throughout.

Principal topics include:

  • Key approaches to socio-legal comparative legal studies in the 21st century
  • Diverse approaches within Asia to the regulation of drugs, through detailed and nuanced examination of the relevant criminal and procedure laws, taking into account different legal systems, social, political and cultural traditions, structures and practices
  • The role played by different legal institutions in the regulation of drugs offences regionally, including courts, police, prosecutors, defence lawyers, NGOS etc.
  • The contribution made to the regulation of drugs and drugs-related offences by international regulatory frameworks
  • The impacts of non-legal networks and institutions on the development, implementation and review of drugs laws in the region
  • Divergent attitudes to the death penalty
  • Drugs-law-related reforms arising from the comparisons
  • The possibilities for convergence or harmonisation of drugs law in Asia.

Intended learning outcomes

For each of the jurisdictions canvassed in this subject, successfully completing students will have:

  • An advanced and integrated understanding of the drugs laws, criminal procedure laws and penalties for drug offences
  • An advanced and integrated understanding of the legal institutions (courts, police, prosecutors and counsel) involved in the development and enforcement of drugs laws, including an acute appreciation of the context and policy debates relevant to drugs law reform
  • An advanced and integrated understanding of the operation of the death penalty in the relevant jurisdictions
  • The capacity to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the law practice gap in drugs-related legal practice in the relevant jurisdictions
  • The oral skills to participate in nuanced seminar discussions regarding current and emerging issues in comparative drugs law, such as the rules of evidence, criminal procedure laws, availability of counsel, the relevance of corruption, and the role of international regulation
  • Have an advanced and detailed understanding of the challenges for drugs law reform;
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to research autonomously to produce advanced comparative socio-legal scholarship relating to the technical areas of drugs law and practice and its reform
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and argue a thesis relying on complex material relevant to comparative socio-legal studies and drugs-law related research.

Last updated: 17 September 2019