U.N. urged to freeze anti-drug aid to Vietnam over death penalty

VIENNA Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:47pm IST

Related Topics

VIENNA (Reuters) - Three groups campaigning against the death penalty called on the United Nations to freeze counter-narcotics aid to Vietnam after it sentenced 30 people to die for heroin trafficking.

Judges in northern Vietnam condemned 30 people to death and jailed dozens more on January 20 for trafficking over 12 tonnes of heroin, in the Communist country's biggest-ever drugs trial.

Vietnam has long been used as a connecting point for moving heroin from Laos, Myanmar and China to other Asian countries and Australia. Its courts hand out harsh sentences to traffickers, which until recently included death by firing squad. It now uses lethal injection.

Harm Reduction International, Reprieve and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty said U.N. drug enforcement support in Vietnam was extensive, with a 2012-17 budget of more than $5 million for technical assistance, equipment, training and other assistance.

In a letter to the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), they said they had raised concern for several years about U.N. support for countries that impose the death penalty for drug offences.

The UNODC had no immediate comment on Wednesday. It has said before that, as part of the United Nations, it "advocates the abolition of the death penalty and calls upon member states to follow international standards concerning prohibition of the death penalty for offences of a drug-related or purely economic nature."

Harm Reduction International, Reprieve and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty said the UNODC had internal human rights guidance which required it "to cease support for a country if it is feared the support may facilitate executions".

"If law enforcement aid cannot be provided with the assurance that it will not contribute to human rights abuses, it can be redirected to health services instead," they said.

Vietnam had about 180,000 drug addicts as of September 2013, according to government statistics. Trafficking of more than 100 grams (3.5 oz) of heroin is punishable by death or life imprisonment in Vietnam.

(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Larry King)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Ebola Outbreak

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Neclear Restart

Neclear Restart

Japan's Sendai nuclear restart in final stage: local governor.  Full Article 

Fight Unites

Fight Unites

Kurds' battle for Kobani unites a people divided by borders.  Full Article 

Railway Revamp

Railway Revamp

China to spend at least $33 bln on new railway lines.  Full Article 

Controversial Remark

Controversial Remark

Thousands denounce HSBC board member's likening of Hong Kong people to freed slaves.  Full Article 

Apple's Cook signals front line of new gay rights battle

Cook Speaks Up

Apple's Cook signals front line of new gay rights battle.  Full Article 

Gas Deal

Gas Deal

Ukraine, Russia, EU agree to natural gas supply deal.  Full Article 

Jerusalem Tensions

Jerusalem Tensions

Kerry urges restraint, expresses worry over tensions in Jerusalem.  Full Article 

Myanmar Roundtable

Myanmar Roundtable

Obama urges progress in Myanmar ahead of rare roundtable.  Full Article 

Active Volcano

Active Volcano

National Guard arrives in Hawaii town threatened by lava.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage