Death penalty 2015: the good and the bad

Death penalty 2015: the good and the bad

23 July 2015, 11:08 UTC
The first six months of 2015 have seen starkly contrasting developments on the death penalty. While the bad news has been very bad, the good news has been very good.
The bad
1. Indonesia resumed executions.
The year began on a tragic note when Indonesia, ignoring pleas from around the world, put six people to death for drug trafficking. The executions were the first in Indonesia since 2013.
2. Pakistan may soon be counted among the world’s top executioners.
Pakistan is edging closer to membership of the unenviable club of the world’s top executioners (China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and USA). At least 150 people have been put to death since a freeze on executions was lifted in December 2014, following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar. 
3. Indonesia and Pakistan used crime and terrorism as an excuse to bring back executions.
Both Indonesia and Pakistan justified bringing back the death penalty by claiming it is an effective response to crime and terrorism.  But there is no evidence to show that the death penalty is more effective at addressing crime than a prison term, nor does abolition lead to a sharp increase in crime, as some fear.
4. Iran looks set to surpass its execution figures for 2014.
Iran has so far this year executed nearly 700 people – many of these executions were not officially acknowledged. In 2014, Amnesty recorded at least 743 executions in Iran over 12 months. That the country put more than 600 people to death just six months into this year is deeply troubling. 
5.  Saudi Arabia has already executed more people than it did in 2014.
Amnesty has recorded 102 executions in Saudi Arabia so far this year, exceeding the total number of executions (at least 90) for 2014. Almost half of these executions were for drug-related offences. 
The good
1. Three countries abolished the death penalty in the first three months of 2015.
In January Madagascar abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Fiji followed suit in February. And in March, the South American State of Suriname also removed the death penalty from its legal books. The abolition of the death penalty in three countries in the space of three months gives further momentum to a trend that has been evident for decades – the world is consigning capital punishment to history.
2. Another three countries are close to abolishing the death penalty.
The Mongolian Parliament is considering a draft penal code abolishing the death penalty. Burkina Faso and South Korea are also considering similar draft laws.
3. The trend towards abolition in the USA is picking up steam.
One more US state, Nebraska, has abolished the death penalty, becoming the 19th abolitionist state in the USA. And in February, Pennsylvania’s governor announced a suspension of all executions.
4. Those countries that execute are in the minority.
Over the last five years, the average number of countries that have carried out executions each year stands at 22.
5. More than half the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty.
In total, 101 countries have completely abolished the death penalty – that’s more than half the countries in the world. Another 33 countries are abolitionist in practice – meaning they have not executed anyone for at least 10 years and have a long-standing policy of not executing. Despite the sharp rise in executions in some countries, abolitionist countries still represent the clear global majority.

Human Rights Documentary Film Show 2013 (2013.10.10-2013.11.26)

FILM EVENT – World Day Against the Death Penalty – 10 October 2013
Amnesty International Hong Kong will be showing 13 human rights  films throughout October and November 2013

The series of films is to be launched on the 11th World Day against the Death Penalty on October 10, 2013, with the showing of Japanese film “The Defender of Death-row Convicts” (Japanese language, Chinese and English subtitles). The film explores the legal career of Yoshihiro Yasuda, a human rights lawyer who has, in spite of condemnation from Japanese society, defended a great number of prisoners convicted of violent crimes.

Other films being shown over the course of the film event include “Hong Kong’s Road to the Abolishment of Capital Punishment” and “I am Innocent, I am Cheng Hsing Tse” – the story of a young Taiwanese man sentenced to death after an unfair trial.

For information on all of the films being showed, the timetable, venue information and ticket booking :

Pakistan: ADPAN calls on Pakistan to lead in South Asia and for the government to commit to a moratorium on executions

ADPAN appeals to the Pakistani government to extend the informal moratorium introduced in 2008 and halt all future executions.

More than 8000 prisoners face imminent execution after a presidential order suspending executions by the previous government expired on 30 June 2013.

In late 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari suspended executions but this decision is currently being reviewed by the newly elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director Polly Truscott said, “at a time when Pakistan’s justice system is struggling to cope with the law and order situation, it can be all too easy for governments to see the death penalty as a quick fix solution. But the death penalty is not the answer to Pakistan’s justice problems.”

“Resuming executions would do nothing to tackle crime or militancy, but instead just perpetuate a cycle of violence,” she added.

Zohra Yusuf, Chairperson of ADPAN member organisation the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said, “well-documented deficiencies of the law, administration of justice, police investigation methods, as well as chronic corruption in Pakistan today have not improved since the government first decided to suspend executions in 2008…capital punishment allows for a high probability of miscarriages of justice, …wholly unacceptable in any civilised society, but even more so when the punishment is irreversible.”  Zohra Yusuf went on to say, “…the systematic and generalised application of death penalty has not led to an improvement of the situation of law and order in the country…”

This echoes recent comments made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon last month, where he urged member states to abolish the death penalty, “We have a duty to prevent innocent people from paying the ultimate price for miscarriages of justice”.

With the exception of the execution of a soldier in November 2012, death sentences have not been carried out in Pakistan since 2008.

ADPAN with members from across the Asia Pacific region including Pakistan work for an end to the death penalty across the region.

ADPAN members : 

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Prison Fellowship Pakistan

Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD)