British foreign aid money is helping fund executions in Pakistan, a human rights group has claimed.
Legal charity Reprieve, which campaigns against the death penalty, says that nearly £13 million has been used to fund anti-drugs operations in the country, but overzealous authorities are then executing those found guilty.
The Daily Mail reports that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif suspended capital punishment last year, but reintroduced it after the Taliban massacred 132 school children in December. Although he only reinstated it for terror offences, there is increasing evidence it is being used for people convicted of other crimes, including drug offences.
The group is now condemning the British government for continuing to hand foreign aid to the programme and has sent a Freedom of Information request to the Foreign Office demanding to see a list of human rights concerns compiled by civil servants.
The Foreign Office has refused the request, however, saying making such a list public could harm relations between the two countries.
But Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s Death Penalty Team, said the request was clearly in the public interest: “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.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said:
“It remains our long-standing policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle.
“The UK and Pakistan have a shared interest in working together to tackle organised crime including the trafficking of drugs, which is a threat to both our societies.
“The British Government is not aware of any case in Pakistan where UK counter narcotics cooperation has led to a death penalty sentence. We continue to review the situation as we have always done.”