The baby daughter of a British mother potentially facing the death penalty in Pakistan marked her first birthday in prison on 15 September.
Malaika, the daughter of Khadija Shah from Birmingham, was born one year ago, while her mother awaited trial in Islamabad on drugs charges. Although Khadija was briefly allowed out of prison to give birth, she was returned to Adiala Jail shortly after, where she and Malaika have remained ever since.
Khadija is one of a large number of people potentially facing the death penalty in Pakistan on drugs charges – a situation which the UK supports, through the provision of aid to Pakistan’s counter-narcotics programmes.
The British Government has donated millions of pounds worth of aid to Pakistan’s Anti Narcotics Force via the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as bilaterally. However, ministers have failed to take the steps necessary to ensure that this aid does not effectively support the hanging of large numbers of people convicted of non-violent drugs offences, says Repreive, the legal and human rights charity.
Khadija’s trial is ongoing. There remain concerns for the health of Malaika, as conditions in Adiala – where large and increasing numbers of TB cases have been reported – are unsanitary and unsuitable for a baby.
Maya Foa, Deputy Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty Team, said: “It is scandalous that Britain is using taxpayers’ money to help other countries send people to the hangman’s noose. The ‘war on drugs’ has failed - instead of stopping the flow of narcotics across international borders, the vast sums of money are facilitating the arrest and possible torture and execution of scores of people.
“Among those caught up in all this are British citizens, such as Khadija Shah – whose baby, Malaika, has spent her whole short life in prison. Britain’s policy of ‘aid for executions’ not only undermines the Government’s stance against the death penalty, but also its obligations to protect its own citizens. It must stop.”