Human Rights Groups Protest Sentencing 30 Drug Traffickers To Death in Vietnam

By McCarton Ackerman 02/17/14

The United Nations has been asked to strip Vietnam's anti-drug funding, but so far the international body has yet to publicly respond.

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After Vietnam sentenced 30 people to death last month for heroin trafficking, human rights groups are calling for the United Nations to strip the southeast Asian country of their anti-drug funding.The ruling was the largest number of defendants ever sentenced to death in a single trial in the country’s history, but many of the 700 people currently on death row in Vietnam are there for drug-related offenses. Reports from within Vietnam stated that the trial for each defendant took approximately one day each.

Harm Reduction International, Reprieve, and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty are the three groups calling for the more than $5 million in aid to Vietnam aid during the 2012-17 period to be pulled. They have cited specific policies from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's internal human rights guidance, which call for funding to be pulled if it’s believed that the financial assistance will lead to people being executed. The United Nations has yet to publicly comment on the 30 death sentences, but drug control is the largest component of their financial aid program to Vietnam that also includes technical assistance, equipment, and training.

Despite “decriminalizing” drug use a few years ago, Vietnam remains one of the strictest countries in the world when it comes to possession and trafficking. Users are often forcibly sent to “rehabilitation” for up to four years that includes near starvation and back-breaking manual labor.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.