FORUM-ASIA urges Asian governments to abolish the death penalty
29 February 2008 5:21 am
In conjunction with International Death Penalty Abolition Day on 1
March, FORUM-ASIA joins all human rights organisations and defenders to
remind the governments in Asia to respect their citizen’s right to life
by abolishing the death penalty. Despite an existing global moratorium
on the use of the death penalty adopted by the United National General
Assembly, Asian governments continue to impose the death penalty and
execute convicted persons.
In conjunction with International Death Penalty Abolition Day on 1 March, FORUM-ASIA joins all human rights organisations and defenders worldwide to remind the governments in Asia to respect their citizen’s right to life by abolishing the death penalty.
Despite an existing global moratorium on the use of the death penalty adopted by the United National General Assembly (UNGA) on 18 December 2007 (GA/10678), FORUM-ASIA is deeply concerned that Asian governments continue to impose the death penalty and execute convicted persons. This total disrespect for the moratorium, adopted by UNGA, which many Asian countries are part of, makes Asia one of the worst retentionist regions in the world for the death penalty.
When the UNGA adopted the resolution last December, it was hailed as a landmark resolution because it was seen as a crucial step toward the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. In the resolution, it states that “there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent value and that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the death penalty’s implementation is irreversible and irreparable”.
FORUM-ASIA urges those Asian governments still imposing the death penalty to abide by the UNGA Resolution and take necessary steps toward the abolition of the death penalty. FORUM-ASIA further urges these Asian countries to ratify and implement the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR-OP2), which aims at abolishing the death penalty. To date, only three Asian countries have ratified the ICCPR-OP2: Nepal, Philippines and Timor-Leste.
Below are several cases of executions that will be carried out, even after the global moratorium had been called by the international human rights body. We want to highlight these cases as we are appalled that the respective governments have chosen to ignore its duty to respect rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, most specifically, the right to life:
In Pakistan, Zahid Masih, 28 years old, was scheduled to be executed this month, despite claiming to have made a forced confession about a murder; he also claimed did not have access to a lawyer. Zahid is a sanitary worker in the Pakistan Army and was given the death sentence by the Military Court on March 2006 for allegedly killing a minor. Initially scheduled for 30 January 2008, the execution was postponed after interventions by church leaders and local human rights organisations. The authorities only responded to the protests by delaying the date of Zahid’s execution.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, FORUM-ASIA received reports that Achmad Suradji was also scheduled to be executed in February. Achmad was charged with the murder of 42 women and girls found buried in a field next to his house and sentenced to death on 27 April 1998. His appeal for clemency to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was rejected in December 2007.
Other countries that have imposed the death penalty in 2008 despite the adoption of the global moratorium include Afghanistan, Japan, Singapore, and Mongolia. Japan also executed three convicted prisoners on 1 February 2008. China, on the other hand, announced earlier this year that it will no longer conduct executions by firing squad, but use lethal injection instead.
A Chronology of the imposition of the death penalty and executions of convicted persons after the adoption of the Global Moratorium on the use of the death penalty (Resolution GA/10678)
18 December 2007
The UNGA adopts the global moratorium on death penalty. 104 UN member states voted in favor of the resolution, 25 abstained and 54 countries voted against it including Afghanistan, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand.
3 January 2008
China announced that it will expand the use of lethal injection in China to replace execution by shooting.
22 January 2008
In Afghanistan, Sayed Perwiz Kambaksh (23), a journalism student, was sentenced to death by a religious Islamic court on charges of blasphemy. Kambaksh was arrested on 27 October 2007 for distributing an article he downloaded from the website that said the Prophet Mohammed ignored women’s rights. He was also accused of possessing anti-Islamic books and starting un-Islamic debates in his classes.
It is believed that Kambakhsh was actually arrested because his brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, a journalist, has written several articles criticizing local officials and warlords.
25 January 2008
Amnesty International reported that Indonesia is planning to execute Achmad Suradji in February 2008. Achmad was sentenced to death on 27 April 1998 for the murder of 42 women and girls found buried in a field next to his house. His appeal for clemency to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was rejected on December 2007.
30 January 2008
In Pakistan, Zahid Masih (28), a sanitary worker in the Pakistan Army, was scheduled to be hanged this day after being charged on March 2006 for the murder of a nine-year-old boy. Zahid denies this charge and claims he admitted to the crime after being tortured by officials. After intervention by church leaders and local human rights organizations, the authorities postponed his execution to 20 February 2008.
It is reported that Zahid was denied a fair trial in a Civil Court and was not given access to a lawyer.
30 January 2008
Singapore’s High Court rejected an appeal from Tan Chor Jin, a former gang leader, who was sentenced to death on 22 May 2007 after a trial his lawyers claim was unfair. Tan Chor Jin was accused for the murder of a man who allegedly owed him money.
He is now appealing to the President for clemency.
1 February 2008
Japan executes three inmates:
1) Masashiko Matsubara (63)
2) Takashi Mochida (65)
3) Keishi Nago (37)
4 February 2008
The Supreme Court of Mongolia sentenced to death three people convicted for murder and robbery: B. Munkhuu, E. Lkhagvaa and D. Mendsaikhan.