New report shows UN is funding drug-related executions


The UN is funding drug enforcement in countries that carry out the death penalty for drug-related offenses, report claims.

A new report from Harm Reduction International (HRI) shines light on how financial aid from states that oppose the death penalty, such as the UK, France and Germany, is funding drug enforcement programmes in countries where the number of drug-related executions is “sky-rocketing”.

The report, ‘Partners in Crime: International Funding for Drug Control and Gross Violations of Human Rights’, has been released in anticipation of the ‘UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking’, a day usually plagued by public executions and demonstrations of the apparent success of the War on Drugs.

Examples of hypocritical behaviour from UN member states fill the report. One example is that Belgium, France, Ireland, Japan, and the UK contributed $3.4 million for an UNODC border control project in Iran in order to increase the number of arrests at key trafficking points. This in and of itself does not run counter to any of the donor country’s policies, until one considers that over 1,000 people were executed for drug offences in Iran from 2010 through 2011, a three-fold increase over the previous two years.

It is not only Iran that is receiving money in order to fight the War on Drugs via capital punishment. Thirty-two states currently retain the death penalty for drug-related offenses. The main exhibitionists of such a practice are China, Vietnam and Cambodia, and HRI’s research shows that all of these countries receive funding from the UN in order to support their drug law enforcement.    

The money also goes towards the building and development of drug detention centres, particularly in Asia. Addicts, non-problematic drug users, the mentally ill and even children are all bundled together in sordid camps, where forced labour and physical and psychological abuse are common place. Even though the UN and donors uphold policy statements against such inhumane behaviour, their funding continues. With one hand they denounce such behaviour; with the other they directly fund and support it, leaving such statements as purely “empty gestures”.

The authors of the report urge readers to “think critically about government efforts to meet their ‘shared responsibility’ to address drug use and drug-related crime. They exhort that the donor countries should move to “support drug control policies that truly respect, protect and fulfil human rights.”