Tuesday, 10 October 2006

New voice against Asia's executions

A new Asian coalition against the death penalty will be launched today in Seoul, South Korea, on the fourth World Day Against the Death Penalty.

Amnesty International (AI) announced that the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) will be launched at events and activities across the region, including South Korea, where a parliamentary bill to abolish the death penalty is currently being considered.

The formation of ADPAN is a significant step in building a regional movement against the death penalty in Asia.

Asia is the world's leading region for executions and it is home to some of the most active death penalty systems, in countries like China, Viet Nam and Singapore.

Activists in Asia are also dealing with issues such as the secrecy of many death penalty systems around the region, the widespread use of unfair trials in capital cases and the growing use of the death penalty for drug-related offences.

An AI statement for the World Day said: "The network of activists, NGOs, civil society groups and lawyers from many countries across the region -- including India, Singapore and Japan -- aims to draw attention to the inequities and unfairness inherent in the administration of the death penalty by appealing on individual cases and campaigning to support national and regional initiatives to end capital punishment."

The organisation said the Asian region had "bucked the worldwide trend to abolish the death penalty", but it was working with ADPAN "to urge Asia Pacific countries to abolish the death penalty".

AI warned that "even periods without executions can quickly and apparently easily be ended – as seen in Indonesia where a state firing squad executed three men in September 2006 after fifteen months with no known executions".

"Asian countries that have taken a lead on the death penalty include the Philippines, which abolished the death penalty in June.

"ADPAN will campaign for other countries in Asia to make real their pronouncements to respect human rights, through the protection of the most fundamental right of all: the right to life," the AI statement said.

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