The UK opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and will use all appropriate influence to prevent the execution of any British national. We intervene at whatever stage and level is judged appropriate from the moment a death sentence becomes a possibility. We will lobby at a senior political level when necessary, and did so in 2012 in a number of countries.
Our past interventions have included submitting amicus curiae briefs to foreign courts (a process whereby an interested group not party to a case volunteers information to a court on a matter before it) and making joint senior-level representations with other European countries to foreign governments. In August, we submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of Indonesia, the first brief from the UK Government to be prepared in a foreign language on behalf of a British national facing the death penalty.
At the end of 2012, there were 12 British nationals under sentence of death in countries across the world and over 50 British prisoners facing trial for offences that could attract the death penalty. The most common charges were drugs-trafficking and murder. During the year, we made representations on behalf of British nationals in a number of countries, including in the Central African Republic, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the US.
We work alongside detainees’ local lawyers and in partnership with the NGO Reprieve and a network of lawyers in the UK to seek to prevent British nationals receiving a death sentence. Where death sentences have been imposed, we seek their review or commutation. In 2012, we worked closely with Reprieve on a case involving three British nationals who had been sentenced to death in Thailand. Following intervention by Reprieve and consular officials in Thailand, the UK and Hong Kong, the men were granted an amnesty by the King of Thailand and their sentences converted to life imprisonment.
We believe that our active involvement often helps either to prevent British nationals being sentenced to death or to delay execution, providing further opportunity for us to make additional representations. We will continue to intervene in these cases.