Reprieve +44 (0) 207 553 8140
For immediate release: Thu Aug 13, 2015
Home Affairs Committee to consider UK links to executions abroad
The Chair of Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee has announced plans to “look again” at the issue of whether UK funding for counter-narcotics operations contributes to increased numbers of executions overseas.
A statement on the website of Keith Vaz MP responds to concerns raised by human rights organisation Reprieve and reported by The Guardian this week under the headline ‘Britain’s £13m overseas war on drugs could be helping fund executions.’
The statement says that Mr Vaz “shares the concerns that have been raised about the UK’s financial and operational support for overseas drug operations,” adding that he will “recommend when the Home Affairs Select Committee next meets in September that they look again” at the issue. It also states that Mr Vaz “will shortly be writing to the Home Secretary to ask her a number of questions on this subject.”
Reprieve has previously warned that the UK’s support for counter-narcotics operations in countries which impose the death penalty for non-violent drugs offences is leading to increased numbers of death sentences. Britain has provided millions of pounds worth of support to such programmes in Pakistan, which has executed over 200 people since December 2014. [emphasis added]
However, ministers have refused to provide a clear answer on what measures, if any, have been taken to ensure that public money does not contribute to the execution of those accused of drugs offences. Reprieve is particularly concerned over the funding provided to Pakistan’s Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), which has listed the number of death sentences secured on its website as an ‘achievement.’ Reprieve has also raised concerns over the widespread use of torture to extract ‘confessions’ by police and security forces in Pakistan – which may result in innocents being sent to the gallows.
Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of the Death Penalty Team at Reprieve said: “Hundreds of vulnerable mules and innocent scapegoats are being executed or languishing on death row in countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is utterly unacceptable that the British government is contributing to this situation, by propping up abusive police forces who openly boast about sentencing people to death. Keith Vaz’s commitment to ‘look again’ at the issue of UK support for executions for drug offences overseas is most welcome. The Home Affairs Committee should now commit to a full inquiry into the lethal consequences of this disastrous policy, and finally bring an end to Britain’s shameful complicity in capital punishment.”
Notes to editors
For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8140. The statement can be found on Keith Vaz’s website. The Guardian reported on the call for an inquiry into the issue of Home Office funding for executions on 9 August.