Tuesday, February 16, 2016

More British hypocrisy on the death penalty

The UK has had a long-term policy of opposing the death penalty, but under the Tories that policy is being eroded. The Foreign Office dropped abolition of the death penalty from its global goals, and they are carefully ignoring Saudi Arabia's mass executions so they can sell them more guns. And now they've hit a new low, with the British National Crime Agency helping to put two men on death row in Thailand:

The National Crime Agency secretly assisted the Royal Thai Police with a controversial murder investigation that put two Burmese migrants on death row despite government rules designed to stop British law enforcement contributing to capital punishment convictions overseas.

BuzzFeed News can reveal that mobile phone evidence handed over by officers from Britain’s elite crime-fighting force played a central part in the prosecution of Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, who were sentenced to death on Christmas Eve for the murders of British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge in Koh Tao.

The Foreign Office has previously expressed grave concerns about allegations that the two Burmese men were forced to confess under torture and a spokesman said after the verdict that it “opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and we have made this position clear to the Thai government”.

British police are prohibited from supplying evidence to foreign authorities who still use capital punishment without written assurances that suspects will not be sentenced to death — unless they have ministerial permission.

But sources close to the case and documents seen by BuzzFeed News have revealed that the National Crime Agency (NCA) passed on the information linking the Burmese suspects to the crime “verbally” without seeking any written assurances that it would not be used to sentence them to death, and the evidence became a crucial part of the prosecution. The two men, both 22, are appealing their death sentences and claim they were framed by the Thai police and coerced into confessing during severe beatings.

This isn't just contrary to policy - its also fairly explicitly contrary to the UK Human Rights Act and the ECHR, which effectively forbid legal cooperation in death penalty cases. But its pretty clear that the UK no longer cares about that. And as for those NCA officers, they're no different from people who knowingly supply a weapon for murder. Under their own law, that makes them guilty of murder, and they should be tried for it.