Pubdate: Sun, 17 Jan 2016
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Jamie Doward


The UK taxpayer has given millions of pounds to help Pakistan's 
counternarcotics force target and arrest drug traffickers, at least 
five of whom have been sentenced to death.

The revelation has raised questions about the UK's commitment to 
opposing the death penalty in other countries. Last year Sir Simon 
McDonald, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, said that 
human rights no longer had the profile within his department that 
they had in the past.

The UK's UKP5.6m donation was made to Pakistan's anti-narcotics 
force, through a five-year UN Office on Drugs and Crime project, 
despite the fact that the Pakistan government insisted donors could 
not demand that it be linked to human rights considerations.

Human rights groups claim the targets encourage capital convictions 
because drug seizures of more than a kilogramme are punishable by 
death in Pakistan, which last year executed more than 300 people, 
overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world's third most prolific 
executing state.

"It is a scandal that the government is using public money to support 
raids that send people to death row," said Maya Foa, director of 
Reprieve's death penalty team. "Pakistan's anti-narcotics force 
aggressively pursues death sentences for people convicted of 
nonviolent drug offences."

The UK funding of the United Nations project project began when 
Pakistan was holding a moratorium on the death penalty. "We are not 
aware of any executions in Pakistan as a result of UK 
counter-narcotics co-operation," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said. 
"The UK and Pakistan have a shared interest in working to tackle 
organised crime."

But even after the moratorium was lifted the UK continued to run 
counter-narcotics training operations in Pakistan. In November 2015, 
Border Agency staff were helping to train staff at Karachi airport to 
detect drug smugglers as part of a programme that is to be rolled out 
to Lahore and Islamabad.

The Foreign Office insists that all government departments must 
adhere to clear guidance when deciding on funding programmes abroad 
that have human rights implications. But Foa said this does not go 
far enough. "The UK must freeze all funding for law enforcement-led 
narcotics operations in states which retain the death penalty for 
drug offences whether that's Pakistan, Iran or Saudi Arabia."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom