UK aid for Iran’s ‘War on Drugs’ is helping to send hundreds of people to death row, despite extensive sanctions placed on the country by the Government, a new report from the legal charity Reprieve has found.
British aid provided to Iran’s counter-narcotics programmes, both bilaterally and via the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), amounts to millions of pounds and includes night vision equipment, GPS and training for Iranian enforcement agencies.
This aid is helping Iran to send hundreds of people to the gallows on drugs offences. Iran currently executes more people per capita than any other country, and drug offenders make up the large majority of those executed – 488 out of a total of 600 in 2011 alone, according to Amnesty International.
Reprieve warns that no conditions have been placed on the aid to ensure that it does not contribute to Iran’s appalling record on human rights abuses and executions.
The report notes that “the UK has provided more than £3.6 million for anti-drugs assistance to Iran since 1998, largely via UNODC (for law enforcement capacity building, demand reduction, public awareness and legal assistance programmes), but also through bilateral programmes (including the provision of night vision equipment, GPS, and customs training),” and concludes that “causal links between aid and executions in Iran are not hard to establish.”
Reprieve investigator Maya Foa said: "It's outrageous that Britain, which is supposed to be committed to the abolition of capital punishment, should in fact be funding executions for drug offences in Iran.
"Given the country's appalling record on human rights, there will be real concerns about just how the equipment and support provided by Britain is being used."
She concluded: "Hundreds are being hanged every year, including children, vulnerable people and innocent scapegoats; that Britain should have played a part in this tragedy is shameful."