UK drug strategy raises human rights fears

By agency reporter
July 19, 2017

The Government’s 2017 drug strategy could risk contributing to the death penalty for drug offences overseas, human rights organisation Reprieve has said.
 
The UK’s new drug strategy, released on 14 July 2017, commits the Government to “taking new action” on counter-narcotics in countries including Pakistan. The document says that new “capability building projects” will see the UK provide training in “enhanced investigation and prosecution practices”, in Pakistan and elsewhere.
 
Pakistan retains the death penalty for drug offences, in breach of international law. Reprieve has raised concerns that many on the country’s death row received unfair trials, with some being tortured into false ‘confessions.’ Pakistan reintroduced executions in 2014.
 
The UK Home Office has provided millions of pounds in support to the country’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), including during Theresa May's tenure as Home Secretary.

The ANF is responsible for arresting and prosecuting alleged drug offenders, hundreds of whom face death sentences. The ANF’s website boasts of securing death sentences, listing these among its ‘prosecution achievements’. In November 2016, the body’s Director-General announced that more prisoners had been sentenced to death on drugs charges, saying this indicated a ’90 per cent success rate.’
 
Maya Foa, Director at Reprieve, said: “The Government has today re-committed the UK to a failed international drug strategy that has seen taxpayer pounds used to support death sentences overseas. The Pakistani counter-narcotics police continue to sentence vulnerable drug mules and innocent scapegoats to death for alleged drug offences.

"Theresa May’s policy has enabled gross human rights abuses whilst doing nothing to reduce the flow of drugs to the UK. Ministers must urgently explain what steps they are taking to ensure that that public funds don’t lead to further death sentences and executions.”

* The government's drug strategy can be read here

* Reprieve http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20975

[Ekk/4]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.