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Government must not assist US on lethal injections says former policeman and Liberal Democrats peer

April 11, 2019 3:03 PM

Death penalty - AmnestyLiberal Democrats in the House of Lords have attacked the Government's stance on the death penalty, being aided by a new Statutory Instrument which would give Ministers more powers to allow the export of goods that could be used for capital punishment or torture post-Brexit.

Brian, Lord Paddick, former Assistant Commissioner and now Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson in the Lords said:

"The direction of travel of this Conservative Government appears to be to reverse the UK's long-standing commitment to encourage the abolition of the death penalty.

"We've already seen Ministers prepare to assist with prosecutions in the United States without seeking assurances that the death penalty will not be used. They have made clear that, should the US refuse to sign a data-sharing treaty that contained a death penalty assurance, the UK would not include one.

"Our concern is that a future free-trade agreement with the US might be so valuable that the Government might be prepared to allow the export of goods that could be used for capital punishment if the US insisted on it.

"The UK should be upholding people's human rights, particularly the right to life, not sacrificing them for the sake of an agreement with the United States, or any other country that still has the death penalty."

The US has been having difficulty accessing chemicals for lethal injections and therefore concerns were raised that in the future they may seek to source these as a part of a free trade deal with the UK.

The Draft Trade in Torture etc. Goods (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 Statutory Instrument was as follows:

The Regulations amend provisions of Regulation (EC) No 2019/125 of 16 January 2019 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (the "Torture Goods Regulation"). The Torture Goods Regulation includes a ban on the export and import of equipment that could only be used for torture or capital punishment and a ban on related technical assistance. There are also provisions to make licensable the export of equipment which could be used for torture, but which also has legitimate applications.

Brian Paddick (seen here during a visit to Newcastle with Parklands councillors) told the House of Lords: Care home (with Lord Paddick)

There have been, and continue to be, concerning developments in relation to the government's attitude towards the death penalty in other countries.

In a recent case of suspected so-called Islamic State terrorists, the United Kingdom did not seek the usual death penalty assurances from the United States in providing evidence to assist in the prosecution of the alleged terrorists. The government stated that it was a wholly exceptional case.

During the course of the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act that enables UK law enforcement to make application to UK courts for orders to secure data from overseas companies, the government refused to guarantee that any treaty that such orders would rely upon, would contain a death penalty assurance.

Negotiations are on-going between the UK and the US to agree a data-sharing treaty that would also enable US law enforcement to secure evidence from the UK for use in American criminal trials, which could result in the death penalty. It was made clear that should the US refuse to sign such a treaty if it contained a death penalty assurance, the UK would not include one.

In other words, My Lords, the "wholly exceptional" case of not seeking a death penalty assurance in the case of the alleged ISIS terrorists would become the norm.

My Lords it appears to me that the direction of travel of this Conservative Government is to reverse the UK's long-standing commitment to make efforts to encourage the abolition of the death penalty wherever it was still legal to carry it out.

Against that background, whilst additions to the goods covered by this order can be made by the Secretary of State by negative resolution, the removal of any goods from those currently listed as those that could be used for capital punishment should surely be by affirmative resolution?

It was explained that such a data-sharing treaty with the United States was potentially so valuable, that we were prepared to forego the death penalty assurance. I am concerned that perhaps a future free-trade agreement with the United States might be so valuable that this Government, or any future Government, might be prepared to remove certain goods the list of those from those that could be used for capital punishment at the request of the United States, if this was necessary to ensure such a free-trade agreement.

My Lords, the government is already prepared to provide the evidence to United States law enforcement, even if it results in someone being sentenced to death. I am now concerned that this Government may also be prepared to provide the United States with the goods that would enable the United States to carry out such an execution, without the explicit consent of both Houses of Parliament.

I look forward to the Minister's assurance that this will not be the case.