Jan 2 2013
UK taxpayers have effectively funded executions in Iran through £3.6 million in aid used to fight the flow of drugs into Europe, human rights campaigners said.
Iran has historically been the leading recipient of UK anti-drugs assistance, through joint programmes with other countries.
But a report by prisoners' rights charity Reprieve found that links between aid and executions were "not hard to establish".
Reprieve investigator Maya Foa said: "It's outrageous that Britain, which is supposed to be committed to the abolition of capital punishment, should in fact be funding executions for drug offences in Iran."
The majority of aid provided to the Islamic state by international governments is focused on improving the efficiency of its anti-narcotics police (ANP), which can include providing night-vision goggles, GPS and customs training. But the success of law enforcement agencies is measured by number of arrests, which will "very likely" lead to executions, Reprieve said.
More than 1,200 people were executed in Iran between 2007 and 2011 for drug offences, while the proportion of total executions for drug crime has rocketed from 28% to 82% in that period.
The Reprieve report comes shortly after Prime Minister David Cameron defended the Government's decision to ring-fence the Department of International Development budget and commit to spend 0.7% of GDP on aid programmes.
Mr Cameron said that even while times were tough at home, Britain had a "moral obligation" to assist the poorest parts of the world. But Ms Foa said that "given the country's appalling record on human rights", there was real concern over how equipment and support provided by Britain to Iran is being used.
Iran executes more people per head than any other country, with 12,000 estimated to have been executed in Iran for drug offences since 1979.
A Foreign Office spokesman said the UK has funded no United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) programmes in Iran since 2007. It added: "We continue to raise with the UNODC, and other UN bodies, the need to ensure that counter-narcotics projects are compliant with international human rights and we have supported the publication of human rights guidelines for UNODC projects."