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April 18, 2014

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UN urged to act on Vietnam over death penalty

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 | 6:29 p.m.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Three groups working to get countries to abolish the death penalty have appealed to the United Nations to freeze anti-drug assistance to Vietnam after the communist country sentenced 30 people to die for drug-related offenses.

The call from Harm Reduction International, Reprieve and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty cites the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's internal human rights guidance requiring the organization to stop funding for a country if it's feared that such support may facilitate executions.

The appeal comes after a court in northern Vietnam sentenced 30 people to death last month for heroin trafficking, the largest number of defendants sentenced to death in a single trial in the country's court history.

UNODC officials were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.