British baby marks one year of life in Pakistani prison

September 16, 2013

The baby daughter of a British mother potentially facing the death penalty in Pakistan is marking her first birthday in prison today (Sunday 15 September).

Malaika, the daughter of Khadija Shah (26, 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.

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.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 7791 755 415 / donald.campbell@reprieve.org.uk

2. There are a number of hygiene concerns in Adiala jail – including reports that of large (and rising) numbers of TB cases – see coverage in Pakistan’s The Nation and Daily Times.

3. Further information on British aid for executions can be found at Reprieve’s Stop Aid for Executions webpage.