Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Global focus on Asia's executioners

Human rights activists worldwide are this month campaigning for an end to the death penalty in Asia.

The sixth World Day Against the Death Penalty, held this Friday 10 October 2008, is focusing on six countries which exemplify important issues in the region:
  • Japan - secrecy and a lack of transparency
  • Pakistan - unfair trials
  • Viet Nam - with a high number of offences punishable by death
  • India and Taiwan - encouraging the introduction of a moratorium, and
  • South Korea - highlighting calls for abolition.
According to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), which organises the annual day of action, the region is home to 60 per cent of the world's population. Some 95 per cent of people in the region lives in a country with the death penalty.

"In many cases, trials are unfair, the death penalty is used for a wide range of crimes, including non-violent ones (drug trafficking, embezzlement), and the lack of transparency characterizes the legal system in many countries,"it said.

The WCADP said however there were some positive changes in the region that raised hope for a "death penalty-free Asia".

"Over the last few years, the total numbers of death sentences and executions have decreased in Asia," it said in a statement.

"Periods of moratorium (i.e. the temporary suspension of executions) are longer and more frequent.

"Alongside these improvements, there are more and more organized Asian activists in favor of the abolition of the death penalty."

Think regionally, act globally
The campaign is centred on collecting signatures on a series of petitions targeting governments in the six countries.

Campaign events in Asia and around the world will raise awareness of the region's use of the death penalty and encourage the six countries to take specific steps towards abolition.

The 2007 World Day Against the Death Penalty helped build support for the United Nations (UN) resolution calling for a moratorium on executions. The UN General Assembly adopted the resolution by an overwhelming majority on 18 December 2007, with 104 member states voting in favour, 54 countries voting against and 29 abstentions.

Related stories:
Victims opposing the death penalty -- 10 October 2007
Sign the global petition against executions -- 3 September 2007
New voice against Asia's executions -- 10 October 2006
World Day call for Australian leadership -- 10 October 2006
Global protest against failure of justice -- 10 October 2006
Call to action on 10 October -- 4 September 2006

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