By Joana Ramiro in Britain:
Anti-death penalty campaigns ditched
Tuesday 4th August 2015
Tories scrap support for anti-capital punishment projects
THE Tories are set to scrap Britain’s support for projects working to end the death penalty across the world, human rights campaigners warned yesterday.
Many were left alarmed as a revision of the Foreign Office (FCO) human rights priorities seemed to leave out all reference to abolishing capital punishment.
According to legal charity Reprieve, verbal confirmation was given by the FCO that the government’s Strategy for the Abolition of the Death Penalty will not be renewed in January 2016.
Reprieve’s director of the death penalty team Maya Foa said: “At a time when executions in countries around the world are spiking, it is alarming that the government is ditching its strategy on the death penalty.
“With Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran all executing at a rate we haven’t seen for years, Britain’s move will send the wrong signal.”
Michael Gove – the new Justice Secretary in David Cameron’s Conservative government– called for the return of the death penalty by hanging in Britain. Maybe the British government thinks: ‘If we would like death by hanging in Britain, then we can hardly object to death by beheading in our ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.’
The policy, which has been in place since 2010, was once described the former foreign minister David Lidington as a “firm goal.”
Campaigners raised further concerns as the FCO seemed to downgrade countries such as China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia from its list of “countries of concern” and renaming them “priority countries.”
In a letter sent to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond last week, Ms Foa said she feared changes meant “the government will end all ring-fenced funding for death penalty projects and significantly scale back the FCO’s human rights department.
“Britain has a long and praise-worthy history of speaking out against the use of the death penalty.
“Reprieve respectfully requests that the government urgently reconsider its current course of action.”
Reprieve, which is not funded by the FCO human rights department, relies on its legal work on death penalty cases to survive.
Sajid Javid is ‘playing with lives,’ Labour charges. Number 10 reasserts the government ‘opposes the death penalty’ despite not seeking a death penalty assurance for two Britons if they’re extradited by the United States: here.