New report connects international aid for drug enforcement to human rights violations

In advance of the UN Day Against Drugs (June 26) the report Partners in Crime: International Funding for Drug Control and Gross Violations of Human Rights (view PDF) was released. The report was released by UK-based non-governmental organisation Harm Reduction International.

The report states that millions of dollars in international aid for drug enforcement is spent in countries with extremely poor human rights records resulting in serious abuses.

The report’s findings include:

  • Belgium, France, Ireland, Japan, UK contributed USD $3.4 million for an UNODC border control project in Iran that has led to a twelve-fold increase in arrests at key transit points. More than 1,000 people were executed for drug offences from 2010 through 2011, more than three times the previous two-year period


  • US government contributed USD$736,800 to a UNODC Interdiction and seizure capacity project in Viet Nam. Key indicators adopted to measure the project’s success or failure was ‘a progressive increase in the number of individuals arrested by the Interdiction Task Force Units…’. At least 24 people were sentenced to death for drug offences in 2010 and at least 27 drug offenders were sentenced to death in 2011


  • Thirty-two states retain the death penalty for drug offences. Among those, China, Iran and Viet Nam apply capital punishment prolifically for drug offences. Harm Reduction International’s research shows that all are in receipt of international funding and UN assistance for drug enforcement.


The report comes just as the US, which has repeatedly supported construction of abusive detention centres in Lao, announced $400,000 in new donations to the country, including funding for these notorious centres. It recommends donor states and implementing agencies develop guidelines around drug control funding and a review of projects in high-risk environments, freezing support if necessary.

Further information:

Harm Reduction International