Call for Asian countries to end the death penalty, respect right to life

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BANGKOK/ LAHORE (ENN) The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and 28 civil society organizations in Asia sees the death penalty as a grave violation of the right to life – the most fundamental and essential human right for other rights to be realized. It serves no purpose to the State and its people in their pursuit of justice.

We therefore call on the Government of Singapore, and other Governments in Asia that retain the death penalty to immediately impose a moratorium to the death penalty, as the first step towards its abolition.

The use of the death penalty has seen a global decline in recent years, signifying a movement towards more effective ways of deterring crimes. Despite this global trend, several Governments in Asia continue to use the death penalty. Just this year, India expanded the scope of crimes covered by the death penalty. The numbers of those sentenced to capital punishment in Bangladesh yearly remains unabated.

The region has also seen an increased tendency to use the death penalty for drug-related offences. Indonesia has been executing primarily those convicted of drug trafficking in recent years. It is estimated that China executes hundreds to thousands yearly for drug trafficking or murder, although exact figures are hard to find.

Governments continue to retain the death penalty despite troubling concerns. There is no convincing evidence to support that the death penalty deters crime. In Mongolia, the death penalty was abolished after it was recognized that the threat of execution did not have a deterrent effect.

Arguments for its use are based more on public opinion rather than on solid scientific evidence. The effect of the death penalty disproportionately affects those who are often the poor and the most marginalized, as they have limited access to resource and power.

Capital punishment is irreversible; it violates the right to life and the right to live free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment – fundamental rights of all human beings. It goes against our goals of promoting rehabilitation for the convicted, and the values and standards of universal human rights we all stand for.

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