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UN urged to freeze anti-drug aid to Vietnam over death penalty

Published on Feb 13, 2014 2:27 AM

VIENNA (REUTERS) - Three groups campaigning against the death penalty called on the United Nations to freeze counter-narcotics aid to Vietnam after it sentenced 30 people to die for heroin trafficking.

Judges in northern Vietnam condemned 30 people to death and jailed dozens more on Jan. 20 for trafficking over 12 tonnes of heroin, in the Communist country's biggest-ever drugs trial.

Vietnam has long been used as a connecting point for moving heroin from Laos, Myanmar and China to other Asian countries and Australia. Its courts hand out harsh sentences to traffickers, which until recently included death by firing squad. It now uses lethal injection.

Harm Reduction International, Reprieve and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty said UN drug enforcement support in Vietnam was extensive, with a 2012-17 budget of more than $5 million for technical assistance, equipment, training and other assistance.

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