In conjunction with the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty (WDADP), the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) strongly presses for and renews its call to Asian governments to abolish capital punishment.
ADPAN is a network of organisations and individuals from about 28 Asia-Pacific countries working for the abolition of the death penalty across the Asia-Pacific region.
Capital punishment is a grave violation of the right to life as enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). ADPAN strongly advocates and supports the rehabilitation – not execution – of death row prisoners.
The statistics are chilling: More people are executed in the Asia-Pacific than in the rest of the world combined. However, the number of executions is declining worldwide; and 140 countries out of 198 worldwide (36 out of 62 in Asia-Pacific) have abolished1 the death penalty in law or in practice.
According to data available across the globe, the death penalty is an ineffective means of reducing crime, and has no unique deterrent effect. In March 2012, the Malaysian Bar Council stated that empirical evidence from surveys has shown that despite the introduction of mandatory death sentences for drug trafficking, the number of cases continues to increase2.
Failures or miscarriages of justice, where innocent persons are executed, or made to languish on death row, are gross violations of human rights. The following three cases in recent years highlight that miscarriages of justice have taken place in the Asia.
In March this year in Japan, a retrial3 has been ordered for Iwao Hakamada, 78, the world’s longest-serving death row inmate. He was convicted of a 1966 quadruple murder, but after almost 48 years, the Shizuoka District Court suspended his death sentence and released Hakamada after DNA testing indicated key evidence against him may have been fabricated.
In 2011, the government of Taiwan publicly apologized to the family of former air force private Chiang Kuo-ching for his wrongful execution4 in 1997.
In China, Nie Shubin was executed5 in 1995 for the rape and murder of a woman. In 2005, another person called Wang Shujin admitted to the police that he had committed the murder.[
In another positive development in November 2013 in Singapore, Yong Viu Kong’s death penalty6 was officially lifted. He become the first drug trafficker on death row to have his sentence reduced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane, under amendments made to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
ADPAN is gravely concerned that executions7 have taken place this year in the following Asian countries: China, Iran, Iraq, Japan, North Korea, Palestine, Singapore, Saudi Arabia Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
Despite appeals by anti-death penalty groups in at least three of these countries (Japan, Singapore and Taiwan), these Asian governments have carried out this irreversible and irreparable penalty in contravention of the policy and principle of the UDHR.
ADPAN notes that out of 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 13 still retain the death penalty. ADPAN urgently appeals to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, North Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam to immediately abolish the death penalty, and in the interim, enforce a moratorium on all executions. This is in line with UNGA Fourth Resolution8 passed on 20 December 2012.
Ngeow Chow Ying
on behalf of the
Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network
10 Oct. 2014, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia