UK Government urged to come clean on Pakistan executions funding
July 28, 2015
The Home Office is refusing to reveal the true extent of secret funding to Pakistan which risks implicating the UK in a wave of executions currently underway.
Human rights organization Reprieve has brought proceedings before the Information Rights Tribunal (IRT) challenging ministers’ refusal to reveal whether Government guidelines were followed when funneling at least £12 million into anti-drugs efforts in Pakistan, largely carried out by the Pakistani Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). The ANF is responsible for sending more than a hundred alleged drug mules to Pakistan’s 8,500-strong death row, and lists these numbers on its website as ‘Prosecution Achievements.’ Several British citizens are understood to be among those facing execution on drugs charges.
Pakistan has executed some 180 people since resuming executions in December 2014, having widened its hanging campaign in early 2015 to cover all prisoners on the country’s death row – including drug offenders, others convicted of non-violent offences, juveniles, and mentally ill prisoners.
The UK’s Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) guidance requires ministers to consider the potential risk to human rights of government overseas assistance. However, the Government is refusing to reveal crucial details of its decision-making about the funding, despite the recent resumption of hangings. The Home Office is arguing that publishing the information would both damage its relations with Pakistan, and reveal information which could “relate to” the British security services.
At the Government’s request large portions of the hearings so far have been heard in secret, without the presence of Reprieve, its lawyers, or a Government-appointed security-cleared lawyer known as a ‘Special Advocate’. Reprieve is currently seeking permission to appeal the judge’s decision to refuse the presence of a special advocate.
Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:
“The British public deserves to know how much of its money is funding hangings in Pakistan, particularly as the country continues its aggressive execution spree. If the UK is contributing to putting vulnerable drug mules – including British nationals – on death row in countries like Pakistan, this is a matter of huge public interest. The Home Office should stop hiding behind spurious national security arguments in an effort to dodge taxpayer scrutiny, and instead come clean about the true extent of its aid for executions”.